Torvalds 'pretty pleased' about new GPL 3 draft

The 3rd draft of the GPLv3 has been released, and it’s great to see that Linus is “pretty pleased” with it. Despite what same are saying, I think that Linus’ opinion on this matters quite a bit. He started one of the most successful GPL projects ever. Him rejecting the GPLv3 has the potential to create a huge fissure in the GPL landscape. From the article:

“I’m actually pretty pleased. Not because I think it’s perfect, but simply because I think it’s certainly a lot better than I really expected from the previous drafts,” he said. “Whether it’s actually a better license than the GPLv2, I’m still a bit skeptical, but at least it’s now ‘I’m skeptical’ rather than ‘Hell no!'”

In particular, one provision against digital rights management has been narrowed, and another that Torvalds feared could lead to multiple incompatible versions of the GPL has been removed or defanged.

“I’m much happier with many parts of it. I think much of it reads better, and some of the worst horrors have been removed entirely,” Torvalds said.

Torvalds was noncommittal about whether he might try to move the Linux kernel to GPL 3–a change that would require the permission not just of Torvalds but also of all other Linux kernel copyright holders. But he didn’t rule it out.

“The current draft makes me think it’s at least a possibility in theory, but whether it’s practical and worth it is a totally different thing,” he said. “Practically speaking, it would involve a lot of work to make sure everything relevant is GPLv3-compatible even if we decided that the GPL 3 is OK.”

I’ve not had a chance to look through the new draft thoroughly, but I’m not a lawyer anyway and my opinion on the subject hardly matters. The FSF had previously intimated that this new draft would prevent deals like the recent Novell Microsoft patent covenant. For it’s part, Novell seems to think this is not the case. From a Novell blog post:

Here’s Novell’s position on the new draft:

We will continue to distribute Linux. Nothing in this new draft of GPL3 inhibits Novell’s ability to include GPL3 technologies in SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, and other Novell open source offerings, now and in the future. This is good news for our customers.
We are firmly committed to continuing the partnership with Microsoft and, as we always have, fully complying with the terms of the licenses for the software that we ship, including software licensed under GPL3. If the final version of the GPL3 does potentially impact the agreement we have with Microsoft, we’ll address that with Microsoft.

A cursory glance would seem in indicate that the following clause is the addition made by the FSF:
Each contributor grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free patent license under the contributor’s essential patent claims in its contribution, to make, use, sell, offer for sale, import and otherwise run, modify and propagate the contribution.

I don’t know enough about legalese to suss out whether that would actually invalidate the MSFT-NOVL agreement, however it is extremely encouraging to see that things are heading in the right direction.

–jeremy

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One Response to Torvalds 'pretty pleased' about new GPL 3 draft

  1. Pingback: GPLv3, Microsoft/Novell language at Jeremy’s Blog

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