rosen commentary on gpl v3

With the final draft of gpl v3 having been announced, commentary will inevitably trickle out. The first I’ve seen worth noting is from Larry Rosen.

He hits on most of the important improvements: more explicit and comprehensive language (perhaps in places at the expense of clarity for hackers, unfortunately); compatibility with the APL; and more clarity about what sorts of aggregations (linking, putting on a CD, etc.) are and are not permitted.

He also talks about the patent language. He doesn’t appear to think that the language itself is flawed (as some have argued), but primarily that its mere existence might prevent people from using an otherwise superior license. I have mixed feelings about that. He is right that this is a risk that it will drive away some of our corporate partners, but given the diligence that has gone into consulting those partners during the drafting process, and the alternative of continuing to open ourselves up to patent risk, it seems a risk worth taking. We will see soon, at any rate.

6 thoughts on “rosen commentary on gpl v3”

  1. i found this to be a properly informative essay, and in that capacity; it was indeed very interesting. particularly enjoyed the clarification of interoperability of modules which are independent works.

    you have been quite busy the last two days, keep up the good work!

  2. Given Larry’s own viewpoint on software patents, this is an unsurprising criticism.

    Fortunately, the entire world doesn’t have to adopt GPLv3 for GPLv3 to have an impact. If only a handful of central projects adopt GPLv3 — like, oh, gcc and glibc, which will certainly happen –then the goals of GPLv3 will be achieved.

  3. That isn’t necessarily a good thing. I’d like to be able to choose v3 or not by weighing the impact, rather than having it (defacto) chosen for me, especially since the risk being taken (that all our corporate partners run away screaming) is a big, big risk.

  4. If you’re starting a new project, or if you’re responsible for the licensing of an existing project, then you are perfectly free to choose the license of the new project, right?

    And if you’re an individual contributor who has not assigned copyright of your code, you are perfectly free to decide whether or not to change licenses, right?

    And if you’re an individual contributor who has assigned copyright of your code, then you’ve already accepted the possibility that the license of your code might change, right?

    Seems to me that “the choice is made for you” only in distro-land, when you’re forced (essentially) to ship GPLv3 packages in order to stay current with other distros. And that’s the chance you take when you choose to play in Free Software Land. The risk is inherent to the model. It isn’t like a distro provider doesn’t have the option to rewriting an implementation of gcc/glibc — especially a provider like Red Hat, which has the horses to make such a transition if anyone does. But that’s not really the right answer. We take the “good” with the “bad”, don’t we?

    There’s an old saying: “beggars can’t be choosers.” That may be an uncomfortable analogy for companies making their living on the backs of Free Software — but the analogy is no less true for that.

  5. Hi, Luis. I’ve only been reading your blog for a few months now, and from what I’ve read, I’m surprised to see you make that comment. Of course there is some risk of corporate jitters (especially with all the FUD flying around), but aren’t we focused on the principle of freedom and letting the cards fall where they will? I think back when GPLv2 was introduced, it must have seemed crazy for any corporate interest in that license at all, ever. I think it’s important for companies to be drinking the same free software kool-aid as the rest of us in order to see it spread and succeed, but I think we shouldn’t overly compromise our goals for the sake of their comfort level. If we’re doing the right thing, and free software continues to deliver, I think GPLv3 will be accepted sooner or later.

  6. […] rosen commentary on gpl v3 (4) June 04, 2007 03:49 AM rosen commentary on gpl v3 June 04, 2007 03:49 AM […]

Comments are closed.