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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- Eben's "Life After GPLv3"

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- Eben's "Life After GPLv3"
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 18:28:45 +0200


And Now ... Life After GPLv3 

Not that it wasn’t wonderful. I enjoyed almost every minute of it, and
I’m going to write about the ones that can be told, some day. But for me
and for my colleague Richard Fontana, after months of living and
breathing GPLv3, the weather’s beginning to change. 

The release of Discussion Draft 3 has been greeted as warmly as I dared
hope: all the recorded outrage has been emitted by Microsoft or its
surrogates, which is at it should be. We had prepared Discussion Draft
3, after all, with the assumption that it was going to be the Last Call
Draft, and I thought, and continue to think, that it would serve
beautifully as the final GPLv3. I agree with RMS that it was very
important to add another cycle of public discussion, and I’m sure the
Free Software Foundation will be making some changes based on that
discussion, as it has in response to comments all along. But I think the
big issues have been correctly addressed, and that the detail work-which
as lawyers we have to take more seriously than everyone else–is ready
for the pressure of reality. 

So it’s time I began to think about life after GPLv3. 

Making the license is just the first phase, to be sure: SFLC and its
clients will be using the new license before long. Lots of people have
speculated in the press about who isn’t going to switch from GPLv2 to
GPLv3. However, I’ve seen much less speculation about developers who
might choose to drop other licenses in order to put their projects or
commercial products under GPLv3. In fact, in my travels around the
GPL-revision process this year I’ve met and talked to many such people.
Their views were also taken into account in framing GPLv3, and I’ll bet
there will be some notice taken late this summer and early autumn, when
interesting and high-profile projects or products change licenses to
adopt GPLv3, or dual license under it. And a license once applied to
software must be respected; our clients’ copyrights are used to protect
freedom, and we will need to help all our GPL3-using clients to get the
same respect for their intentions that other free software and open
source projects receive. 

But this long drafting project, which has displaced most of the rest of
my professional life (and, it sometimes seems, all of my personal life
as well) is winding down at last. Which means it’s time to return to
some of what I’ve missed. Writing and teaching, for example. Time to
reorganize time. As I return to teaching at Columbia I need to
concentrate more of my remaining spare time and effort on the affairs of
the Software Freedom Law Center, which is inevitably going to mean less
involvement with the affairs of other organizations I care very much

In particular, it’s time for me to leave the board of directors of the
Free Software Foundation, where I’ve been since 2000. FSF is in great
shape under the continued leadership of Richard Stallman and his
executive director, Peter Brown. Completing GPLv3 successfully
underlines the credibility with which FSF combines the most
uncompromising principle with the depth of knowledge and experience
needed to build broad coalitions in our community. Leaving is always
hard, but there couldn’t be a more appropriate or less disruptive time. 

More than anything else, however, this is a moment to focus on the new.
SFLC is a wonderful place to work, for me and I hope for all my
colleagues. Great things are happening that haven’t had enough
attention, because everyone has been watching GPLv3. The really
innovative work is being done by the other lawyers here. They are
refining organizational structures, innovating strategies for setting up
“project conservancies”–a new type of shared container for multiple free
software projects –which gives those projects administrative and legal
advantages with minimal overhead. They are counseling young projects
making astonishing new free software that’s going to be rocking
business’s world three or four years from now. We’re taking risk out of
projects everybody is using or is going to want to use. Helping my
colleagues do that work, supporting their growth as they support their
clients, is the right thing for me to do right now. 

Hurrah for GPLv3, and hurrah it will soon be done. 




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