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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- CRN: "GPL 3 'Last Call' Draft Issued, Ado

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- CRN: "GPL 3 'Last Call' Draft Issued, Adoption Date Set In June"
Date: Fri, 01 Jun 2007 00:08:05 +0200

GPL 3 'Last Call' Draft Issued, Adoption Date Set In June

By Stacy Cowley, CRN 

4:53 PM EDT The Free Software Foundation (FSF) issued a "last call"
draft of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3 today, the final
iteration in a two-year drafting process expected to close with the
revised license's adoption next month. 

The last-call draft, posted on the FSF's Web site, features a few
changes from the nearly final draft the FSF published in late March.
Most significantly, the new draft resolves a number of arcane legal
differences between the FSF and the Apache Software Foundation to enable
license compatibility between the two groups. License compatibility
means that developers can combine software covered under Apache and GPL
3 licenses to create a larger software application. 

In conjunction with the last-call draft, the FSF also fixed a date for
GPL 3's official publication and adoption: June 29. Until then, the
organization will collect public comment on the draft. 

GPL 3's adoption will be a significant milestone for the open-source
software industry. The most commonly used open-source license, the GPL
covers some of the most widely adopted applications and platforms,
including Java and Linux. 

Leaders of many GPL-licensed projects will face a decision about whether
to stick with the 16-year-old GPL 2 or migrate to the new license. The
FSF, which holds copyrights on a number of key open-source technologies,
will immediately move to the new license, meaning all new updates to its
projects made after June 29 will be covered by GPL 3's terms. 

The new license has the potential to open a chasm in the open-source
world. The GPL requires that all larger programs incorporating code
covered by the license be themselves released under the same version of
the GPL -- making the GPL incompatible with different versions of
itself. The FSF attempted to head this problem off years ago by
encouraging developers to license their works for "GPL version 2 or
later," opening up a smooth migration path. But a number of key
projects, including the Linux kernel and Sun Microsystems OpenJDK Java
SE, remain under "version 2 only" GPL licenses, preventing them from
being commingled with GPL 3 code. 

FSF president Richard Stallman downplayed the potential conflict in an
essay released Thursday in conjunction with the new draft. 

"License incompatibility only matters when you want to link, merge or
combine code from two different programs into a single program. There is
no problem in having GPLv3-covered and GPLv2-covered programs side by
side in an operating system," Stallman wrote. 

However, Linux distributors often link components in ways that could
prove legally problematic if the components are covered under
incompatible license. 

Stallman urged developers to focus on the benefits of GPL 3. While the
license revision's impetus was FSF's frustration with DRM (digital
rights management) encumbrances and other user-unfriendly innovations,
it gained a new urgency when Microsoft and Novell reached their
controversial patent-covenant deal in November, protecting Novell's
Linux customers, but not those of other Linux distributors, from
potential Microsoft patent lawsuits. FSF's lawyers quickly went back to
the GPL 3 draft drawing-board to add provisions preventing GPL software
users from striking such deals in the future 

Stallman hammered that point in his essay. 

"Microsoft made a few mistakes in the Novell-Microsoft deal, and GPLv3
is designed to turn them against Microsoft, extending that limited
patent protection to the whole community. In order to take advantage of
this, programs need to use GPLv3," he wrote. "Microsoft's lawyers are
not stupid, and next time they may manage to avoid those mistakes. GPLv3
therefore says they don't get a 'next time.'" 



"I can change the rules."

   Herr Prof Eben

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