First Draft of GPL Version 3 Released
January 16, 2006 Leave a comment
The first draft of the GPL V3 was released earlier today. I found this HTML diff of v2 vs. v3 useful for quickly seeing what has changed. I am not a lawyer, and the GPL sure does contain a lot of legalese. Of course, as a legal document that hopes to stand up in court it actually has to be written in that language, but the “human readable” version of the CC is always something I've liked. It gives the average person the ability to see what the legalese means, while keeping the full version for lawyers, judges and masochists. A cursory glance at the text and I noticed a couple valuable additions. The anti-DRM clause, the “Licensing of Patents” section and the fact that this version seems to have slightly more hope of being compatible with other open licenses. The one thing I didn't see but expected, was clarification of how the proliferation of web services impacts the GPL. What I mean by that is, if someone takes a GPL'd program, edits the source and then only offers it as a web service – are they required to release their modifications? I don't see that addressed in any way – but if someone with more legal knowledge than me does, please do drop me a line. The one thing that I've always found interesting about v3 of the GPL is that the Linux kernel itself will probably never use it. The kernel includes this:Also note that the only valid version of the GPL as far as the kernel is concerned is _this_ particular version of the license (ie v2, not v2.2 or v3.x or whatever), unless explicitly otherwise stated.
It's my understanding that the above means that anyone who has contributed code is doing so only under GPL v2, so moving to v3 would require every person who has ever submitted code to agree to the upgrade, which seems like an unsurmountable barrier to me. I've always found the auto-upgrade by default clause odd anyway. I can see how it's useful – you always get the latest and greatest without too much hassle. But what if the latest version contains a clause you'd not have released your program under?
GPL, GNU, Open Source, Linux, GPLv3, FSF