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FSF Releases Third Draft of GPLv3 390

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the complaining-to-the-right-people dept.
johnsu01 writes "The Free Software Foundation has announced publication of the third discussion draft of the GNU General Public License Version 3. Because quite a few changes have been made since the previous draft and important new issues have surfaced, the drafting process has been extended and revised to encourage more feedback. The most significant changes in this draft include refinements in the "tivoization" provisions to eliminate unwanted side effects, revision of the patent provisions to prevent end-runs around the license, and further steps toward compatibility with other free software licenses. The FSF has also explicitly asked the community whether the new patent provisions should apply retroactively to the Microsoft-Novell deal."
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FSF Releases Third Draft of GPLv3

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  • by Erioll (229536) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @12:50PM (#18517061)
    Are there any articles about this from 3rd-party sources, and not the FSF themselves? I'd really like some analysis that isn't from those that produced it.
  • Can they do that? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by venicebeach (702856) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @12:51PM (#18517083) Homepage Journal
    The FSF has also explicitly asked the community whether the new patent provisions should apply retroactively to the Microsoft-Novell deal

    Is that really an option? Wouldn't that be changing the terms of the license (v2) after it was distributed and agreed to? I don't understand how they can affect the Novell deal without going through the trouble of upgrading Linux to GPLv3-- and even then Novell should be able to use old Linux released under GPLv2, no?
    • by kosmosik (654958)
      > Wouldn't that be changing the terms of the license (v2) after it
      > was distributed and agreed to?

      GPL v2 has a clause that the licensed code (or whatever) is aviable on GPL v2 basis or any further version of GPL. Linux uses GPL v2 without this clause.

      > I don't understand how they can affect the Novell deal without
      > going through the trouble of upgrading Linux to GPLv3

      Linus specificaly stated that he is against using GPL v3 in its current form. Also it would be hard to change Linux license since
    • by shaitand (626655)
      'Is that really an option?'

      Yes

      'Wouldn't that be changing the terms of the license (v2) after it was distributed and agreed to?'

      No. Novell would still be able to work with GPLv2 stuff. Just not GPLv3 stuff.

      'I don't understand how they can affect the Novell deal without going through the trouble of upgrading Linux to GPLv3-'

      Why? Nobody is really concerned about Novell borrowing patented Microsoft concepts to include into the Operating System. The areas of concern of Novell's contributions to projects like Sam
      • Re:Can they do that? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @01:15PM (#18517395) Homepage Journal
        You missed the part about "upgrading Linux to GPL3". Some people out there think Linus controls the license to all of what goes into a distribution, not just the kernel.

        Everybody: Linux is just the kernel. Linus does not control anything else, and has less than absolute control over that.

        Bruce

    • No, retrospective changes are not an option, and no, FSF is not trying to do any. "Retrospective" was just a bad choice of words.

      The decision is whether the patent deal provisions should apply to all such patent deals, including the Novell-MS one, or only patent deals that are made from now on.

      So the question to the community is: Do Novell deserve to be let off?

      And the question to Novell is: What promise can you make to earn the communities trust so that they could justify letting you off?

      (I've also clarif
    • Re:Can they do that? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @01:11PM (#18517357) Homepage Journal
      Yes. What RMS was asking for was whether GPL3 code should include pernicious terms, from the start, that apply to people who had already committed a deal like the Novell-Microsoft one on GPL2 code but not yet on GPL3 code. The other option is to wait until said scoundrels commit the same deal on GPL3 code.

      Bruce

      • Allowing exceptions is opening pandora's box. The unintended consequences could potentially be much worse than just the Micosoft/Novell deal. For instance, what happens if Novell gets bought out by IBM? What if they were bought out by someone like SCO?

        Better not to make any specific grandfather clause in the license. If someone doesn't want to follow the license, they just don't use any of those applications/libraries.
      • Re:Can they do that? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:38PM (#18518579) Homepage Journal
        I'm going to have to correct myself. The specific sentence in square brackets, which means it's proposed but not accepted, would exempt anyone who has made a Novell-Microsoft-like agrement before today from enforcement of the terms even on GPL3 software. So, FSF is really asking "should we let Novell and Microsoft off, and just apply this to future violators?" I don't think they'll do that.

        Bruce

  • Retroactively? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr.Ned (79679) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @12:57PM (#18517165)
    "The FSF has also explicitly asked the community whether the new patent provisions should apply retroactively to the Microsoft-Novell deal."

    I didn't see that in any of TFAs; does anyone have a link?
    • by roscivs (923777)
      Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing that any license could do to prevent the following scenario:

      1) Microsoft asserts that Linux violates its patents
      2) Microsoft fails to provide any evidence or back up this claim in court
      3) Microsoft signs an agreement with Novell stating that they covenant not to sue any users of Novell's brand of Linux

      This sort of evil FUD will work pretty much no matter what, and it's pretty much what's happening now. There's absolutely nothing that I can think of that would legally
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) *
        While you can't prevent Microsoft from doing this, you can use terms of your license to prevent Microsoft and its partners from distributing your software once they do this. And in this case, MS has a written covenant to the Novell customer, which is ample evidence to show a judge. In addition, the actual terms of the agreement will come out with the 10-Q report for Novell, and that's evidence too.

        Bruce

        • by roscivs (923777)

          While you can't prevent Microsoft from doing this, you can use terms of your license to prevent Microsoft and its partners from distributing your software once they do this. And in this case, MS has a written covenant to the Novell customer, which is ample evidence to show a judge. In addition, the actual terms of the agreement will come out with the 10-Q report for Novell, and that's evidence too.

          I disagree. The terms of the license might be able to prevent Microsoft from distributing your software, but th

          • I disagree. The terms of the license might be able to prevent Microsoft from distributing your software, but they can't put any restrictions on the benefactor of Microsoft's covenant without devolving into silliness.

            Actually, they really could, as long as there is a contract or agrement to shield users between the party making the covenant to users and the partner who is doing the distribution of GPL3 software.

            But in this case it's even more clear, since Microsoft is distributing coupons that can be redee

            • by roscivs (923777)

              Actually, they really could, as long as there is a contract or agrement to shield users between the party making the covenant to users and the partner who is doing the distribution of GPL3 software.

              What's the purpose if it happens to block the means of the current shadiness, but there are plenty of other means left unblocked that will achieve the same ends? In other words, once the GPLv3 is released, Microsoft can just stop doing any distribution themselves (that hardly affects their position), and make the

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Bruce Perens (3872) *
                I think we're not really protecting the freedom of GPL code if we allow some people to be licensed to run the code and some not to be. That's the point of the GPL2 language to put everyone in the same boat regarding patents. But we saw that the language was not sufficient because someone constructed a loophole around it. We can't assure that we can protect against all loopholes, but we can try our best and revise when necessary.

                The Novell-Microsoft deal really strikes at developer motivation. Why write "fre

      • by init100 (915886)

        It could not prohibit the deal itself, but it could be possible to significantly impact Novell's ability to distribute code covered by the new license, and this is what it is trying to accomplish. Novell is knowingly distributing code that its partner asserts patents against, and the partner provides a promise not to sue to Novell's customers, but nobody else.

        • by roscivs (923777)

          Novell is knowingly distributing code that its partner asserts patents against, and the partner provides a promise not to sue to Novell's customers, but nobody else.

          But its partner isn't "asserting patents against" in any legal way, they're just saying in vague ways that Linux probably violates some Microsoft patent somewhere. Furthermore, Microsoft's covenant to sue doesn't require Novell to be party to the agreement for it to work its evil.

          For example, let's say Microsoft covenants not to sue RedHat Linux

      • by HRbnjR (12398)
        It's section 11, paragraphs 4 and 5 which are meant to cover this. As I read them (not a lawyer), these basically say: "If you convey GPL'd software to someone, and grant them a patent license for that copy of the software, then that license is automatically extended to all recipients of the software. You may not convey GPL'd software if, for doing so, you are paying someone else to license their patents to your recipients."

        Does that not stop this? Looks like it would to me. I'm not so sure I like the f
        • by roscivs (923777)

          It's section 11, paragraphs 4 and 5 which are meant to cover this. As I read them (not a lawyer), these basically say: "If you convey GPL'd software to someone, and grant them a patent license for that copy of the software, then that license is automatically extended to all recipients of the software. You may not convey GPL'd software if, for doing so, you are paying someone else to license their patents to your recipients."

          Does that not stop this? Looks like it would to me. I'm not so sure I like the fact

  • Sadly... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Infinityis (807294) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @01:00PM (#18517191) Homepage
    I remember when freedom wasn't quite so complicated and obfuscated. With things getting so verbose and convoluted, more people will probably eschew things like GPLv3 just to keep things unpretentious.
    • Re:Sadly... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @01:11PM (#18517359)

      Freedom under the GPL has always been complicated, because it means free-as-in-FSF. As I've observed before, that isn't the same as "free" by any English language definition, which would be more akin to a BSD-style licence.

      The problem we're now seeing is that the FSF is redefining its own concept of free to match whatever behaviour it currently perceives to be in conflict with the ethics of those driving it. They're welcome to do that, of course, but it's beyond me why anyone else (including those who distribute their code under GPL2) would care, unless their personal ethics happen to match the FSF's exactly. Then again, I also rather suspect that a lot of people who distribute their code under the GPL do so because it's trendy in certain circles rather than because they've ever read the fine print anyway, so I'm already doomed to unhealthy karma oblivion. ;-)

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Look at the four essential freedoms. They are ALL about USER freedoms. The programmer who wrote the code has all the freedoms they need: choose the license you want.

        What other license looks for the users' freedoms? None. This has not changed. Just YOUR perception of what "FSF-free" means. You thought it meant YOUR freedom with someone else's code. Now you know different.
      • Re:Sadly... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by init100 (915886) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:12PM (#18518209)

        Freedom under the GPL has always been complicated, because it means free-as-in-FSF. As I've observed before, that isn't the same as "free" by any English language definition, which would be more akin to a BSD-style licence.

        Would it? The BSD is akin to "You can do anything you want", while the GPL is akin to "You can do anything you want, except killing, raping, robbing or otherwise harming other people". The GPL is free, it just tries to stop people from restricting other peoples' freedom.

        • The GPL may be noble but it certainly is not free. It is a set of rights to which you are bound as a developer that are by no means trivial. Major corporations, like IBM, have teams of GPL-specializing attorneys to ensure compliance with those rights.

          At the risk of sounding inflammatory, GPL is, in fact, source code DRM. If you want to use GPL licensed source you have to sign up to rules much as you have to sign up to rules when you but a tune from Apple. Again, I acknowledge that these are noble and genera
  • With such a long license, and so many companies now using free software in their products, I bet some will follow these simple steps:

    1. Open a law firm
    2. Interpret the GNU GPLv3
    3...Profit!
  • by i_should_be_working (720372) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @01:06PM (#18517263)
    I only skimmed the draft, but it seems in this whole Novel-Microsoft thing, the part about web-apps has been lost. There was talk about getting this base covered.

    Right now if I write some code and GPL it someone can take that code, use it in the regular ways that is permitted by the GPL, but then instead of distributing it, they turn it into a web-app and charge people to use the code. Since they are not technically distributing the binaries, they don't have to release the code, whether they've modified it or not.

    • by cyclop (780354) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @01:24PM (#18517535) Homepage Journal

      And I've never understood why this is bad.

      A web app on a website is a source code usage, not distribution. The code runs on the web server and never leaves it. So why should I bother about it? In what sense it's different from me modifying a GPL program on my machine only and having my friends using it on my machine?

      • by MajroMax (112652)

        A web app on a website is a source code usage, not distribution. The code runs on the web server and never leaves it.

        There's little difference between running a binary on your computer and interacting with it and running a binary on someone else's computer and interacting with it. A web-app is no different than an app displayed through remote X-Windows. If you want to get legalistic, I could argue that putting the web app on the website isn't usage so much as performance.

        In addition, the latest draf

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        "A web app on a website is a source code usage, not distribution."

        What's the real difference? Think of it as "virtual" distribution via the Web.
        GPL was written before the rise of web apps, but as web apps have become more and more used, GPL must change with the times. Imagine that in the next 5 years, 80% of apps are web apps, and GPL doesn't cover them. GPL is pretty much useless then. Imagine that in the future, Microsoft makes a web version of Office. There'd be nothing preventing them from using GP
      • Well, if you as a code author don't have a problem with it, then it's not bad to you.

        But I do think it goes against the spirit of the GPL. When a coder puts something under the GPL what they are usually meaning to say is "everyone who uses this app (and it's derivatives) should get the code too if they want it". Denying users the code to the web app that you are making them pay to use is taking away the freedom that the original author intended for them, IMO. If you modify some GPL'd code and let your frie
  • Reaction to GPLv3 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Experiment 626 (698257) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @01:23PM (#18517517)

    I'm curious how the adoption of GPLv3 will play out. The kernel is going to stay at v2 for the foreseeable future, so the new version will mostly apply to the GNU tool chain. There are enough companies out there who like the loopholes of v2 (TiVo, SuSE, etc.), will they maintain a fork of the code that stays licensed under v2, perhaps individually, perhaps as a collective effort amongst those with reason to balk at v3? Another possibility is to just keep on using versions of the code that were released under v2. Some things, like /bin/ls, really don't change enough that everyone will feel compelled to step up to the latest version. On the other hand, if the GNU software the company depends on is gcc, staying at a particular release and not having support for new processor technologies in your compiler would start to become problematic after a while.

    So, how do you guys think the companies for whom adopting GPLv3 would eliminate loopholes will react to the new license? Somehow, I don't think they will just all go, "Oh, so that's how you intended Free Software to be used. We will play nicely from now on."

    • Re:Reaction to GPLv3 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @01:37PM (#18517737) Homepage Journal
      Tivo could live with a GPL3 kernel if they wanted to. I've explained how here [technocrat.net]. Novell? The big problems for them will be GNU LIBC, which everything uses, Samba, and many other programs. They run the risk of either falling behind or having their expenses jump significantly. But I hear the Linux business is up for sale, anyway, and that they will eventually break the company into several pieces. That's why it's called SuSE now, instead of "Novell Linux".

      Bruce

  • Quick issues (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gclef (96311) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @01:32PM (#18517637)
    A few thoughts from a *very* quick read of it:
      * They mention you need to supply "Corresponding Source" (eg, signing keys for Tivo-ization) to all "User Products" but defined "user Products" to basically mean anything that goes in the home. So business-style rack appliances that are not designed for the home can Tivo-ize at their leisure. This is apparently intentional, according to the rationale pdf. This seems....messy, and a huge potential hole.

      * Moving away from calling out specific parts of the US code for the anti-DMCA parts and over to calling out the WIPO is a bit better for international users of the GPL, but they then call out US code again in the definition of a home device. This is problematic. Defining a for-the-home product in other countries will be difficult. (What do we do for this license in countries that have no such distinction?) They seem to acknowledge this in the rationale PDF, and say that they're evaluating it.

    (Personally, I think these two issues are just the beginning of the uglyness with the anti-tivo-ization stuff, and they'll eventually be forced to drop these clauses in the name of sanity, but that's just me.)

      * The anti-Novell portion is *incredibly* confusing. There has to be a better way to say that. It seems to be written just to target Novell and the specific thing Novell is doing, which I think invites problems. For example, what if the third party you make a deal with isn't in the business of distributing software? (such as the patent/IP houses that exist all over the place) Is a "we won't sue your customers" deal okay then? This section needs a *lot* more thought.
    • 'defined "user Products" .. anything that goes in the home. So business-style rack appliances .. can Tivo-ize at their leisure .. This seems....messy, and a huge potential hole'

      'Products that are commonly used for personal as well as commercial purposes are consumer products, even if the person invoking rights is a commercial entity [fsf.org] intending to use the product for commercial purposes', rationale.pdf

      'what if the third party you make a deal with isn't in the business of distributing software?'

      Well
      • by gclef (96311)
        1) I think you're missing my point: I'm not concerned about companies being able to go after home devices used in the corporation. I'm concerned about manufacturers using the "it's not for the home" exemption to avoid those terms of the license alltogether.

        2) So Novell signing a MS-style patent deal with a patent shop (ie, only Novell customers won't get sued) is okay? I really doubt that's the intent.
        • While User Products are now going to be required to come with information on how to change the software, that doesn't mean you get to Tivo-ize in non-user products. The DRM provisions apply equally to non-user products. What the User Product terms mean is that you don't have to tell people with non-user-products how to construct a JTAG cable to reflash the product. You can make them figure that out by themselves.

          Bruce

          • by gclef (96311)
            That may be the intent, but I'm not sure that comes across in the wording. The wording just says:

            If you convey an object code work under this section in, or with, or specifically for use in, a User Product, and the conveying occurs as part of a transaction in which the right of possession and use of the User Product is transferred to the recipient in perpetuity or for a fixed term (regardless of how the transaction is characterized), the Corresponding Source conveyed under this section must be accompanied

    • The "User Products" thing seems to stem from the fact that some large government and industrial customers do not want to have control of these keys.

      If that is the case why not simply allow the keys to be held by the provider till they are requested. Then the customer can not request the keys, but if requested the must be provided.This would allow the companies and governments that do not want there rights to have it their way. While other customers would not be forced to by only "User Products". Or if someo
  • My freedom ends at the tip of your nose. Stallman's intentions for greater freedom may be good. But I have the feeling he wants to control the behavior of other people.

    Real freedom is allowing people to use free software for good or ill.
  • Looks like the FSF has admitted failure in one of the major goals of GPLv3; they're no longer trying to be compatible with the Apache License 2.0. It frustrates me that they are solving problems like "Tivoization" but not this. Maybe the ASF can create an Apache 2.1 license to solve this.
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:55PM (#18518795)
    IANAL, but OMG FFS FSF, GPL3 can't work AB. AFAIUI, we need GPL3 AEAP, if Novell/MS's deal 2B AMF.
  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @04:11PM (#18519745) Journal
    I now have two concerns about the GPLv3 after trying to wade through that document:

    1) Will I be able to understand the license? (and if not do I really want to release code under it?) I would strongly suggest a non-legalase summary be included in the final version.

    2) Will it actually be worth anything outside the US? Every single legal reference pointed to US law, they take definitions from existing US laws and they comment that certain provisions are compatible with US law. I'm beginning to wonder if RMS and co. realize that a majority of the world lives outside the US.

    Perhaps they are attempting to concentrate on US law and then branch out into the rest of the world later but to me that seems a somewhat dubious tactic since the thing looks so complex at the moment that I'm not convinced that it can be compatible with multiple countries' laws all at once. So I also wonder if there will end up being multiple versions of GPLv3 as you go around the world.

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