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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- "GPL 3: Coming Saturday?"

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- "GPL 3: Coming Saturday?"
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 16:44:54 +0100

Barbara Darrow

GPL 3: Coming Saturday?

Open source community members expect the long-awaited GPL 3 (or at least
another draft of it) to be unveiled this Saturday at a Free Software
Foundation meeting in Cambridge, Mass. 

GPL 3 proponent Bruce Perens told reporters Monday that he would bet
that new license will be disclosed at this meeting, although he said he
did not know for certain. 

Perens hosted a press event to coincide with Novell's Brainshare 2007
kickoff in Salt Lake City. 

Some in the open source world have blasted Novell for its new-found
allegiance with Microsoft, which they view as anathema to the open
source movement. 

Perens also confirmed what has long been rumored -- that the GPL 3 will
include provisions that could work to the detriment of Novell as a
result of that Microsoft pact. 

He later forwarded this statement from FSF's Richard Stallman: 

Free software means software that respects users essential freedoms,
including the freedom to change the software so it does what you wish,
freedom to run it, and freedom to redistribute copies. The denial of
these freedoms is what makes proprietary software unethical. To make
these freedoms a reality, we set out 23 years ago to develop the GNU
operating system, which is the basis of all today's quote Linux unquote
distributions, including that of Novell. 

In 1983, a few free programs existed, and unscrupulous middleman eagerly
took them and made non-free modified versions. It was clear that to
deliver freedom to every user we would have to find a way to defend the
users' freedom. The method we developed is the GNU General Public
License. The purpose of the GNU GPL is to ensure that redistributors of
the program respect the freedom of those further downstream. The GPL
defends the freedom of all users by blocking the known methods of making
free software proprietary. 

Novell and Microsoft have tried a new method: using Microsoft's patents
to give an advantage to Novell customers only. If they get away with
scaring users into paying Novell, they will deny users the most basic
freedom, freedom zero: the freedom to run the program. 

Microsoft have been threatening free software with software patents for
many years, but without a partner in our community, the only thing it
could do was threaten to sue users and distributors. This had enough
drawbacks that Microsoft has not yet tried it. Attacking in combination
with a collaborator in our community was much more attractive. 

If nothing resists such deals, they will spread, and make a mockery of
the freedom of free software. So we have decided to update the GNU
General Public License not to allow such deals, for the future software
releases covered by GPL version 3. Anyone making a discriminatory patent
pledge in connection with distribution of GPL-covered software will have
to extend it to everyone. 

In the mean time, let's make it clear to Novell that its conduct is not
the conduct of a bona-fide member of the GNU/Linux community. 

In his press briefing, Perens said any code now covered by the GPL 2
would continue to be covered under that license, Perens said. Novell's
problem would come because core code emanating from the Free Software
Foundation (FSF), including the libc, glibc libraries and c compilers
will move to GPL 3 and at that point Novell would not be able to use
them unless it complied with the new license. 

"What happens then is a fork. Novell gets stuck with old technology and
the gap will get wider," Perens said. 

Trying to summarize what the GPL would say re. Novell, one Linux
reporter put it this way: "Hey, Novell! [insert raspberry sound here.]" 

Just minutes earlier, across the street, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian, said
he could not comment on the new general public license. 

"The GPL 3 is a work in progress so it's inappropriate for me to
speculate what would happen there. But given the high sensitivity of the
community, it is important to us how the community feels. Novell is very
committed to Linux and Linux is a key part of our strategy," he said. 

This report was updated Monday afternoon with Stallman's statement. 


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