MySQL refines its GPL licensing scheme under MySQL 5.0 and MySQL 5.1

According to this blog post from Kaj, MySQL VP of community relations, the company is changing the wording of the GPL license for both 5.0 and 5.1. From the post:
MySQL has today refined its licensing scheme from “GPLv2 or later” to “GPLv2 only“, in order to make it an option, not an obligation for the company to move to GPLv3.
Specifically, this means that copyright notice in the MySQL source code files will change from referring to “either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version” to “version 2” only, in the MySQL 5.0 and MySQL 5.1 code bases.
Six years ago in the summer of 2000, when MySQL AB licensed its software under the GPL, our founders David Axmark and Michael Widenius made this choice because the GPL was a license followed and respected by everyone. We have kept to it, because the GPL is the most palatable license, and poses the least friction for our user base.

It should be noted that MySQL AB is on GPLv3 Committee B, which advises the FSF. Basically what this move means, is that any GPLv3 fork of the MySQL code would need to happen at the last version of the MySQL code released under the old wording. It would need to be a clean break and no sharing of code would be allowed. The move seems to be a continuation of the sentiment some businesses are having with the GPLv3. To be completely honest, I've never liked (or even understood) the “or later” clause. Why would you agree to release your code under a license that hasn't been written yet. Right now, and for their entire history, the FSF has rocked. Even so, what if something crazy happens and the GPLv10 includes wording you are vehemently against? If your code has the “or later” clause the GPLv10 will apply. It's a blank check or sorts, which just seems like a bad idea. Maybe I'm missing something.
–jeremy

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2 Responses to MySQL refines its GPL licensing scheme under MySQL 5.0 and MySQL 5.1

  1. Anonymous says:

    Regarding the “or later” clause, I wondered the same thing and my thought led to the conclusion that it is intended for the closely tied GNU project which should stand behind their sponsor's license crafted primarily for them. For any third party, this would only make sense in the case where they want to guarantee license comparability with the GNU operating system. Otherwise it is a “blank check”, but for GNU, there should be no problem with writing themselves such a check.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good point – the “or later” clause does indeed make sense for actual GNU projects. I'd guess many others are simply using the wording because it's the default.
    –jeremy

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