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FSF releases the GNU General Public License, version 3

From: Joshua Gay
Subject: FSF releases the GNU General Public License, version 3
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2007 12:32:48 -0400
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20070306)

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Friday, June 29, 2007 -- The Free
Software Foundation (FSF) today released version 3 of the GNU General
Public License (GNU GPL), the world's most popular free software

"Since we founded the free software movement, over 23 years ago, the
free software community has developed thousands of useful programs
that respect the user's freedom.  The programs are in the GNU/Linux
operating system, as well as personal computers, telephones, Internet
servers, and more.  Most of these programs use the GNU GPL to
guarantee every user the freedom to run, study, adapt, improve, and
redistribute the program," said Richard Stallman, founder and
president of the FSF.

Version 3 of the GNU GPL strengthens this guarantee, by ensuring that
users can modify the free software on their personal and household
devices, and granting patent licenses to every user.  It also extends
compatibility with other free software licenses and increases
international uniformity.

Jeremy Allison, speaking on behalf of the Samba team, states that they
see the new license as "a great improvement on the older GPL," and
that it is "a necessary update to deal with the new threats to free
software that have emerged since version 2 of the GPL."

The warm embrace of much of the community should come as no surprise,
for the license is the final result of an unprecedented drafting
process that has seen four published drafts in eighteen months. These
were the basis for a discussion that included thousands of comments
from the public. This feedback, along with input from committees
representing the public and private sectors, and legal advice from the
Software Freedom Law Center, was used in writing the text of GPL
version 3.

"By hearing from so many different groups in a public drafting
process, we have been able to write a license that successfully
addresses a broad spectrum of concerns.  But even more importantly,
these different groups have had an opportunity to find common ground
on important issues facing the free software community today, such as
patents, tivoization, and Treacherous Computing," said the
Foundation's executive director, Peter Brown.

Tivoization and Treacherous (aka, "Trusted") Computing are schemes to
prevent users from utilizing modified or alternate software. The
former simply blocks modified software from running; the latter
enables web sites to refuse to talk to modified software. Both are
typically used to impose malicious features such as Digital
Restrictions Management (DRM). GPL version 3 does not restrict the
features of a program; in particular, it does not prohibit DRM.
However, it prohibits the use of tivoization and Treacherous Computing
to stop users from changing the software. Thus, they are free to
remove whatever features they may dislike.

Karl Berry, long-time GNU developer and Texinfo maintainer, believes
that "the GPL is the fundamental license that ties the free software
community together, and version 3 does an excellent job of updating
the license to the present-day computing reality." Elated by the new
patent clause, he bemoans software patents as "a scourge on our
cooperative efforts."

Over fifteen GNU programs will be released under the new license
today, and the entire GNU Project will follow suit in the coming
months. The FSF will also encourage adoption of the license through
education and outreach programs. "A lot of time and effort went into
this license. Now free programs must adopt it so as to offer their
users its stronger protection for their freedom," Stallman said.

The final license is published at

About the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL)

The GNU GPL is the most widely used free software license worldwide:
almost three quarters of all free software packages are distributed
under this license. It is not, however, the only free software

Richard Stallman wrote the version 1 and 2 of the GNU GPL with legal
advice from Perkins, Smith & Cohen. Version 1 was released in 1989,
and version 2 in 1991. Since 1991, free software use has increased
tremendously, and computing practices have changed, introducing new
opportunities and new threats. In 2005, Stallman began revising the
GPL for version 3. In January 2006, the FSF began a systematic process
of public review and feedback, with legal advice and organizational
support from the Software Freedom Law Center.

About the GNU Operating System and Linux

Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a
free software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only
operating system developed specifically for the sake of users'
freedom. See

In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for
one, the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under
the GNU GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux
formed a complete free operating system, which made it possible for
the first time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination
is the GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see

The GNU components in the GNU system will be released under GPL
version 3, once it is finalized. The licensing of Linux will be
decided by the developers of Linux. If they decide to stay with GPL
version 2, then the GNU/Linux system will contain GNU packages using
GNU GPL version 3, alongside Linux under GNU GPL version 2. Many other
packages with various licenses make up the full GNU/Linux system.

About Free Software and Open Source

The free software movement's goal is freedom for computer users. Some,
especially corporations, advocate a different viewpoint, known as
"open source," which cites only practical goals such as making
software powerful and reliable, focuses on development models, and
avoids discussion of ethics and freedom. These two viewpoints are
different at the deepest level. For more explanation, see

The GNU GPL is used by developers with various views, but it was
written to serve the ethical goals of the free software movement. Says
Stallman, "The GNU GPL makes sense in terms of its purpose: freedom
and social solidarity. Trying to understand it in terms of the goals
and values of open source is like trying understand a CD drive's
retractable drawer as a cupholder. You can use it for that, but that
is not what it was designed for."

About The Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to
promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and
redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and
use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating
system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free
software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and
political issues of freedom in the use of software. Its web site,
located at, is an important source of information about
GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

Media contacts:

Brett Smith
Licensing Compliance Engineer
Free Software Foundation

John Sullivan
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation

Joshua Gay
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation

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