[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Tuesday, 2006-09-26

GPL v3 news

Filed under: Intellectual Property,Linux — bblackmoor @ 17:26

The Free Software Foundation has recently clarified “inaccurate” information about GPLv3. The clarification closely follows the release of a position paper signed by top Linux developers, in which they announce their objections to the proposed GPLv3. Linus Torvalds was a noteworthy exception. He recently explained why he didn’t sign the GPLv3 position statement, but why he still supports the GPLv2 open-source license.

As much as I despise the Digital Rights Mafia, I have to agree with two of the points made by the Linux kernel developers. First, adding anti-Digital Rights Mafia conditions to the GPL imposes something that GPL v2 is justly praised for lacking: end use restrictions. You do not have to agree with anyone’s politics or agenda to work with them on a GPL v2 project — all you have to do is agree to share your work. It’s politically and culturally neutral. I don’t think enough people appreciate how valuable that is. Second, the additional restrictions section is a huge problem. The Linux kernel developers declare that this section “makes GPLv3 a pick and choose soup of possible restrictions which is going to be a nightmare for our distributions to sort out legally and get right. Thus, it represents a significant and unacceptable retrograde step over GPLv2 and its no additional restrictions clause.” That’s about as clear as anyone can put it, I think.

So as much as I sympathize with the goals of the people working on GPL v3, I don’t think I’ll be using it, or working on any projects that do. (Not that I am doing much open source programming — or programming at all — now that I am at Circuit City, but I hope that this is a temporary situation.)