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Moglen's Plans to Upgrade the GPL 411

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the keeping-pace-with-the-times dept.
Nick Irelan writes "Although it most certainly won't be easy, Eben Moglen is attempting to upgrade the GPL. He sees an opportunity to create a version of the GPL that will be able to adequately suit the needs of modern programmers. If they are implemented, his ideas will be the first major change the GPL has experienced since Richard Stallman wrote the original version. Eweek has an amazing article about Moglen's work. Linus Torvalds discussed what he believes should happen to the GPL with Eweek as well."
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Moglen's Plans to Upgrade the GPL

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  • by chris09876 (643289) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:41AM (#11562494)
    I agree that the GPL has some issues that should be cleared up..., but with such a major revision, I'm worried that it will just add another 'compeletly separate' license. Some projects might still want to have the old GPL license, while other projects might want to be released under the 'version 3' license. I think it will add more confusion to all the licenses that already exist.
    • by Frymaster (171343) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:46AM (#11562549) Homepage Journal
      I'm worried that it will just add another 'compeletly separate' license

      well, the lgpl [gnu.org] has been around for a long while and it's caused no serious confusion so far. the fact is, if there are a lot of licenses it's easier to find one that suits your project and organization's requirements. choice good.

    • by NemosomeN (670035) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:53AM (#11562624) Journal
      Based on the wording of the GPL, you cannot release a GPL program under an old lisence. It states that the program is licensed under either the included version, or any subsequent version thereof, at the discretion of whoever is going to be changing it. The GPL is also "unmodifiable" (Something I personally don't like) I assume, technically, this also forces derivitaves of someone who chose to use GPL3 on a GPL2'd project would forever be locked in GPL3
      • You're allowed to release your code under whatever licence you want, assuming you're the copyright holder. In fact, some people even release code under licences that don't yet exist, for instance I can interact with the emacs source under the terms of the GNU GPL version 2 or, at my discretion, any later version. Wow. The GPL3 could annoy a load of emacs developers, but I'd still be able to treat their code as if those are the terms I agreed to. Interesting...
      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @11:25AM (#11562991) Homepage Journal
        While the GPL is "unmodifiable", there's nothing stopping you from adding additional permissions to a GPL'd project whose copyright belongs to you and other consenting individuals.

        For example, Linus explicitly allows non-GPL'd software to run over Linux, though an addition to the LICENSE file. In this case, Torvalds wasn't modifying the GPL, he was essentially adding an additional license.

        This is allowed because a license (as opposed to an EULA) is just a set of permissions. Each set of permissions adds to any you already have (including your default set of "fair use" privileges.) You can license any project you own under as many licenses you wish, and end users can pick and choose which (complete) licenses they want to agree to. (The word "complete" in that sentence is important.)

        Also, while the GPL is unmodifiable for existing projects that do not belong to you, if you have a strong enough case you can persuade the FSF to agree to a modified version for projects you own, on occasion even if the result is a license incompatable with the GPL. For example, the Affero General Public License, whose history you can read about here [gnu.org].

    • Remember clause 9 of the current GPL -- most GPL code either specifies "GPL version #.# or any later version", or does not specify a version at all in which case Clause 9 permits the user to choose any GPL version that has ever been published.

      For existing code, a subsequent GPL revision can effectively only liberalise the usage rights - the user is free to choose to stick to the prior version. But oddly, perhaps this could could end up including "the right to restrict the use of modifications further" bec
      • Perhaps this is glib, but i would say that it's the fault of the programmer for for releasing code under a license that he not read and understood.

        If a programmer does not want to make his work available under "any later version" of the GPL, then he simply doesn't include that phrase when writing his copyright notice.

        The GPL even states, under "How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs":

        To do so, attach the following notices to the program. ...

        This program is free software; you can redistr
  • by IO ERROR (128968) * <<su.rorreoi> <ta> <rorre>> on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:41AM (#11562499) Homepage Journal
    This sums it up nicely:

    Another change to the technical paradigm that the license must address is the issue of trusted computing and the threat it poses. "If I knew what the solution to the problem of trusted computing was, we would have a draft version of it in circulation by now," Moglen said. "There is also no belief now that the GPL violates the constitution or IP law, and we will not be held back by the actions of SCO [Group] and [its CEO] Darl McBride.

    "I do not yet know what we will do in this regard, and we will have to choose among the options before involving others in the question of the license and its contents," Moglen said, promising that a document will be provided that gives the major rationale for the license choices made and the options considered.

    I can't wait to see drafts, but I do also want it done right, so that the new GPL is strong enough to shove right up Darl McBride's ass.

    • The fact that a lot of code is licensed GPLv2 ONLY and not v2 or later?

      Including Linux... And the fact that all the Copyright holders of Linux are not reachable, and without all of them agreeing it cannot be relicensed?

      GPLv3 could not be more restrictive than v2, so they lost their opportunity to include patents- restrictions... IMHO the FSF cornered itself hard with this.
      • The fact that a lot of code is licensed GPLv2 ONLY and not v2 or later?

        That's backwards. The facts you cited are reasons why it will take a long time for a new version of the GPL to be substantially adopted, and thus they are encouragement for the FSF to hurry up and get it out there. They don't do anything to explain why they haven't even published a draft GPLv3 yet.
    • "I can't wait to see drafts, but I do also want it done right, so that the new GPL is strong enough to shove right up Darl McBride's ass."

      If my sneaking suspicion (that he's got similar qualities to the goat.cx guy) is correct, it won't have to be very strong.
  • by nberardi (199555) * on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:42AM (#11562504) Homepage
    Hopefully he will listen to many of the concerns of corporations and the GPL use with in. If they make a better GPL it will be awsome, because my company won't be so hesitant to use or develop anything under the GPL. My company's biggest complaint with GPL is anything developed using GPL libraries must be GPL and released. They just want to make money and contribute back when it's nessisary and important.
    • No need to release it.
    • I thought linking with GPL libraries was fine.
      • by pthisis (27352) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @11:01AM (#11562713) Homepage Journal
        Linking against a GPL library (e.g. cygwin) requires the result to be GPL'd.

        An LGPL'd library (e.g. libc) can be used by non GPL'd software so long as you provide the ability to upgrade the LGPL'd library (dynamically linking satisfies this condition, as does providing object files and a link script).

        Both of the above assume that copyright actually applies (if, e.g., your work isn't legally a derived work of the GPL'd or LGPL'd code then things are rather different).
        • Linking against a GPL library (e.g. cygwin) requires the result to be GPL'd.

          Bad example:

          In accordance with section 10 of the GPL, Red Hat permits programs whose sources are distributed under a license that complies with the Open Source definition to be linked with libcygwin.a/cygwin1.dll without libcygwin.a/cygwin1.dll itself causing the resulting program to be covered by the GNU GPL.

          This means that you can port an Open Source(tm) application to cygwin, and distribute that executable as if it didn't inc

    • by Xpilot (117961) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:46AM (#11562555) Homepage
      My company's biggest complaint with GPL is anything developed using GPL libraries must be GPL and released.

      That's why we have LGPL libraries. But I think your company misses the point of GPL. GPL'ed code is like public property, nobody should be able to deny others access to the code, and if you use this property you are obliged to contribute back to the community. Making it "optional" would mean a lot of greedy folks wouldn't do it at all, which is against the intent of the GPL.

      • by Nimrangul (599578) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @11:02AM (#11562725) Journal
        No, public domain is public property and noone can deny access to that code. GPL stuff is private stuff that is granted to the public under the condition that all works generated from it remains in the same position.
        • Public domain creative works can be made into proprietary works by simply deriving new works from them. Otherwise every single piece of classical sheet music, every orchestra concert and recording, every movie, tv show, or commercial that had a Beethoven, Bach, or Mozart bit in it, etc, would also be public domain. Indeed, several Disney movies, including Hunchback of Notre Dame, Fantasia, Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Snow White, and many more would be public domain because either significant story elements
          • The new works are indeed proprietary. The original stories are still in the public domain; Disney can't sue you for making a new Snow White movie any more than Microsoft can sue you for using the same BSD socket code that they've "made proprietary" by using it in their closed source software.
            • My point wasn't to elaborate the status and usage of public domain works and how their derivations come to be proprietary, but to criticize the use of analogies that attempt to equate copyright (or lack thereof) with real (public) property. It is a fundamentally flawed analogy for the exact reason you point out. One can use public domain works to create copyrighted works and the public domain work still exists. Public property cannot be converted into non-public property without diminishing the quantity of
              • But the work in the public domain is not being converted, it is being copied and the copy is being converted. The original remains.

                Is there any way you can honestly see using a public domain item to make a copyrighted work removing the public domain item from the reach of the people? Does it suddenly cease to exist because there is a new derived work?

                What you're saying implies it.

                • But the work in the public domain is not being converted, it is being copied and the copy is being converted. The original remains.

                  Yes, I've said so twice now.

                  Is there any way you can honestly see using a public domain item to make a copyrighted work removing the public domain item from the reach of the people? Does it suddenly cease to exist because there is a new derived work? What you're saying implies it.

                  No, what I'm saying directly contradicted that assertion. Twice.
      • But that's not what's happening. If I use a GPLed library in an application, unmodified, then in what way am I denying people access to the code of that library by not GPLing the rest of the application?

        I understand the legal arguments, that as the library is linked in to the resulting binary it is *technically* a derivative work, I just don't happen to agree with them. As I understand it, if all you do is use the normal output of some GPLed code, then your code is not required to be GPLed. To me, the "nor
        • A good discussion of this appears here [debian.org]. One point made is that the headers to the library may be covered by the GPL, and those headers *are* part of the application code. There was some discussion about releasing the *headers* as public domain, which may release any linked code from the GPL, but at that point you'd be better off releasing the library under LGPL.
        • > But that's not what's happening. If I use a
          > GPLed library in an application, unmodified,
          > then in what way am I denying people access to
          > the code of that library by not GPLing the
          > rest of the application?

          The idea is perfectly simple. You've gotten the benefit of other people's work (ie, the library) without paying money for it, so now you're asked to open up some of your own work (your program) in return.

          If you write a JPEG library and give it to me for free, would it be fair for me t
          • If you write a JPEG library and give it to me for free, would it be fair for me to write a JPEG utility using it and sell it, given that basically all I wrote was a UI?

            You assume that writing the JPEG library is the HARD part. From what I have seen, crafting a well throught out and easy to use GUI is the truly hard part.

            IMHO, GPL sofware would be FAR more attractive and accepted if the viral license didn't apply to library calls in the least. Think of it as a gateway to broader use of the GPL in busine

          • If you write a JPEG library and give it to me for free, would it be fair for me to write a JPEG utility using it and sell it, given that basically all I wrote was a UI?

            Yes, because you're not selling the JPEG library itself (or if you are, your buyers are very stupid since they could've gotten it for free). Your customers are paying for the added value of the UI you wrote; why should I resent you selling it, just because it prereqs my free code?

            If you are able to sell the UI, this implies it's not t

        • But that's not what's happening. If I use a GPLed library in an application, unmodified, then in what way am I denying people access to the code of that library by not GPLing the rest of the application?

          You aren't. But you are denying them access to the code of your own application, which is something you promised to supply at the time you used GPL code in your project. (If you didn't intend to make that promise, then you were simply breaking copyright law)
      • if you use this property you are obliged to contribute back to the community

        You certainly are not. You are only obliged to provide source code IF you decide to distribute your modifications.

    • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:51AM (#11562608) Homepage

      My company's biggest complaint with GPL is anything developed using GPL libraries must be GPL and released.

      Well, that's not even true. There is no need to release anything.

      The GPL only states that if you choose to release (distribute) the code, it must be under the GPL.

      • I believe that offering the binary for sale (either by itself or as part of a complete system) is considered releasing/distributing the code. What I'm not clear on is whether linking to a GPL library implies that your code must also covered by the GPL (I thought changes/additions to the original code only are subject to the terms of the GPL).
      • The GPL only states that if you choose to release (distribute) the code, it must be under the GPL.

        Actually, that's one of the things that some people want to change, though I have no idea how they'll pull it off.

        The current situation is this: You can start with some software that is available by the terms of GPL, and create a derived work. But instead of redistributing it to others, you can just make your derived work available as a service (for example, a web app). You don't distribute the software -

    • Hey, maybe you can use LGPL libs instead, because it was the purpose of the creation of the LGPL - allow the usage of GNOME/GTK+ interface in the prioritary apps. For example, almost all GNOME libs are LGPL now.
    • "My company's biggest complaint with GPL is anything developed using GPL libraries must be GPL and released."

      Almost. IF you release something GPL-derived, you have to release the source, and license it under the GPL. But noone says you have to release it. You can continue using the modified GPL program for in-house purposes and never release anything to anyone.

      But the general idea you're getting at - that GPL-derived works should be GPLed as well - is sort of the point of the license. If that were to chan
      • So what's a derived work? Is it really impossible to release a GPL COM object, or a GPL VB, Delphi, Java or C# application (since all of these are linked with non-GPL libraries that aren't distributed with the OS.. in fact pretty much anything but C/C++ can't actually be GPL'd if you take the GPL literally).

        Is the C# runtime *really* a derived work of my hello world application?
    • They just want to make money and contribute back when it's nessisary and important.
      Yeah, and I just want to borrow your XBox and give it back when I feel like it too.

      Man, some people/companies just don't get the whole 'give and ye shall receive' - and vice versa! - thing, do they?

      J.

    • See this argument [usermode.org].
    • 'anything developed using GPL libraries must be GPL and released'

      That's two piles of shit.

      1: You only have to offer source code to the people you give binaries to, now if that's within your company then you don't have to release to anyone else.

      2: Lets say I develop against ATI's opengl implementation and dynamically link against the library and I distribute the application closed source, then a user is using MESA a GPL version of opengl to the runtime linker links my application against a GPL library.
      Th
    • My company's biggest complaint with GPL is anything developed using GPL libraries must be GPL and released. They just want to make money and contribute back when it's nessisary and important.

      In that case, contact the owners of the GPLed library or libraries that you wish to use and open negotiations with the aim of securing the rights you require, quite probably by offering money. If you think the owners want too much, write your own version (note that you can legitimately study the workings of the GPLed

  • upgrades. (Score:5, Funny)

    by k4_pacific (736911) <k4_pacific@noSpAM.yahoo.com> on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:42AM (#11562515) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:
    Eben announced his intentions to upgrade the GPL with a new processor, a better graphics card, and more memory. This will enable resource intensive software to use the GPL as well.
  • Nice! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by myom (642275) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:46AM (#11562563)
    This is not a day too early, and a bit modified GPL version might be enough to make it possible to implement and develop open source software in my Swedish (but with 80% of the operation in other European countries) mastodont government organisation. The other branches of the corporation have already a pro-GPL and OS attitude, but the anti-OS, pro-MS main coproration has this far been against it because of GPL's actual (but mostly perceived) restrictions.

    Nice with some good news at the end of a work day. =)
  • by slavemowgli (585321) * on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:47AM (#11562568) Homepage
    You gotta love contradictions. The first article states that the current version of the GPL is "2.2", which was "released August 2004"; the interview with Linus states that the GPL is supposed to undergo its "first revision in 13 years".

    Obviously, both statement's can't be true at the same time. What's correct now? (And considering that the articles are from the same publication, doesn't anyone actually *check* what's written for factual accuracy before it goes live?)
    • The latest version of the current GPL license, known as GPL Version 2.2 and dated August 2004, is not that different from the present license.

      also, with regard to poor writing... isn't the latest one also the present one?
    • the interview with Linus states that the GPL is supposed to undergo its "first revision in 13 years".
      Insert the word "major" between "first" and "revision", and everything will become consistent.
    • by kwalker (1383) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @12:49PM (#11564033) Journal
      It's not a contradiction, but a misinterpretation.

      The GPL version "2.2" is the DEVELOPMENT VERSION, which Prof. Molgen submitted to RMS for debate. To my knowledge, no one is using it (I haven't even SEEN it yet). The latest PRODUCTION VERSION is version 2, dated in 1991, the version that almost all GPL software is currently licensed under.
  • by deego (587575) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:48AM (#11562578)
    GPL has a clause saying something like:

    If there are patent-encumbered parts in the program/derivative, we allow distribution ONLY if the patent is available for one and all to use royalty-free.

    I would like to see it changed to:

    If there are patent-encumbered parts in the program/derivative, we allow distribution ONLY if the patent is available royalty-free for ALL programs that follow any OSI-certified open source license.
    • > change proposed

      In other words, GPL should ALSO allow for patents that are (royalty-free) available ONLY to open source products. If enough such patents build up in the open source arsenal, vendors will have no choice but to either forego the entire patenting mania, or to use open source licensing when they use a patent from the open source arsenal.
    • why stop there?

      "If there are patent-encumbered parts in the program/derivative, we allow distribution ONLY if the patent is available royalty-free for ALL programs."

      • "If there are patent-encumbered parts in the program/derivative, we allow distribution ONLY if the patent is available royalty-free for ALL programs."

        Huh? That's what it currently is. This has 2 problems, imo

        [1] IBM's recently opened patents, for example, which are open to all open source programs do NOT qualify.

        [2] If there were a few patents (say IBM's) that are open to open source programs *only*, that adds an added pressure on any competitor using those patents to open source their programs.
    • You probably shouldn't put people in the license like that; what if, sometime over the next 150 years or so that code I write now is owned by me, OSI is hijacked?

      Better to refer to their current standards, and thereby #include them (to use a code concept), so they can't be changed later unless the FSF wants to update the GPL later.

      Actual OSI certification would, until such time as they are hijacked if ever, constitute extremely good evidence that a license meets their standards.

      Other that that, I see you
    • by Xtifr (1323)
      The part that you're citing is in the preamble. The preamble is not controlling - that is to say, it's not actually part of the license. The actual license starts after it says, "The precise terms and conditions for copying, distribution and modification follow."

      The only part of the GPL itself that mentions patents is section 7 (note that if you can't cite a section number, what you're quoting is not part of the license itself). Section 7 merely tells you that if a patent license or court judgement make
  • software patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dextr0us (565556) <dextr0us@NOsPam.spl.at> on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:50AM (#11562599) Homepage Journal
    Wouldn't a liscence benefit some developers that is akin to a patent? You GPL your source, but then patent your binaries? That way, your binaries are still protected intelectual property, resalable, for a few years, and then are freely distributable?

    I think about 7 year old software, and some of it I could still use, and not have any piracy guilt. If i could get my hands on an older copy of After Effects, or any other 7 year old adobe product, i'd be set, and legal!
  • The Creator (Score:3, Informative)

    by wombatmobile (623057) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:51AM (#11562609)

    From the eWeek article:

    "Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux operating system"

    Not [gnu.org] a good start for this process...

    Mod eWeek -50 Flamebait

    • Re:The Creator (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aug24 (38229)
      Nah, that's exactly right. Cos an operating system doesn't include a desktop, a media player and <insert widget-of-the-week here>, it just does device and memory management. Linux is exactly that: an operating system.

      See here [wikipedia.org]

      Justin.

  • Web Services (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kuwan (443684) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:55AM (#11562639) Homepage
    The issue of Web services has to be considered, he said. Some in the community are calling for a strong copyleft license with code that is used and changed to be returned to all. Others want the opposite.

    "I do not believe that we will be reach consensus on this front, so I believe the license will have to accommodate options as to the question of Web services, but this must be squared with the ideological pursuit of freedom," he said.


    I thought that this was interesting. So if a change like this were made it would make the GPL similar to the initial versions of Apple's Public Source License. [apple.com] In the first versions of that license you were required to submit any source code changes you made even if you didn't redistribute the software and only used it internally. My understanding is that if you're a Web Services company and you use modified GPL software, you don't need to contribute back the modifications you've made as long as you don't redistribute your modified software to anyone.

    I doubt that the GPL will ever adopt this requirement, but it's interesting that some in the community want this.

    --
    Join the Pyramid - Free Mini Mac [freeminimacs.com] | Free Flat Screens [freeflatscreens.com]
    • More on the APSL 2.0 (Score:3, Informative)

      by kuwan (443684)
      Following my own link [apple.com] and reading a bit more it seems that Apple has already addressed issues like Web Services and even Patent litigation against the licensor (Apple).

      Regarding Services (Major Changes in Apple Public Source License 2.0):

      1. Licensees will only be required to release source code of Modifications they "Externally Deploy" (new Section 1.4, and Sections 2.1, 2.2). "External Deployment" is defined to cover the external distribution of APSL'ed code or use of APSL'ed code to provide a service (
    • Re:Web Services (Score:3, Informative)

      by GigsVT (208848)
      The GPL doesn't work that way.

      See, you don't have to agree to the GPL unless you do something which would be violate copyright if "All Rights Reserved" were the license.

      Downloading and running a program doesn't violate copyright even if all rights were reserved, assuming the person you are getting it from is duly authorized to distribute it to you (lets assume they are).

      Using the program internally and modifying it also fall outside the realm of copyright law.

      Only distribution triggers copyright law res
      • Re:Web Services (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mant (578427)

        So what if I make a web service written with GPL software available to the public? It only sits on my servers, but anyone can make a SOAP request and get a response.

        I'm not distributing a binary, but people can use the service. Do I have to make the code available?

        As things like web services become bigger this becomes a more important question.

    • ... as an option. Notice what Eben Moglen says in the quote:

      "I do not believe that we will be reach consensus on this front, so I believe the license will have to accommodate options as to the question of Web services, but this must be squared with the ideological pursuit of freedom," he said.

      So clearly the GPL will actually have some kind of optional clause of 'GPL 3b' type version which will either add or remove a web services clause that requires access to a modified version of the software as a web
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 03, 2005 @11:19AM (#11562919)
    upgradepkg gpl
  • The article didn't seem to mention more then generalities about possible legal fine points.

    Anyone know what the big changes are, if there are any?
    • by LuSiDe (755770)
      Its been in the air for quite a while and one of the possibilities is (in laymen's term) some 'anti-patent clause' similar as copyrighted copyleft-work (the 'flipover' aspect). You've seen the other possibilities in the eWeek / Moglen article.

      One interesting thing to note is that he requests feedback. The FSF wants your feedback! Actually, i think they also want open debates / discussion.

      One way for feedback is the Software Freedom Law Center [softwarefreedom.org] recently launched [groklaw.net]. On board are e.g. Moglen (FSF) and Lessig (O
  • Too many people making software, and either not putting _any_ license on it, or they just pick one semi-randomly.

    The key would be to make it understandable by non-laywer type people. Then it would start being used more. Also, when it comes out, there should be compairisons, not only to the previous version, but to other popular ones out there. That way a person fully knows what options are out there.
  • on Web Services (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Thursday February 03, 2005 @11:57AM (#11563362) Homepage

    The issue of Web services has to be considered, he said. Some in the community are calling for a strong copyleft license with code that is used and changed to be returned to all. Others want the opposite.

    "I do not believe that we will be reach consensus on this front, so I believe the license will have to accommodate options as to the question of Web services, but this must be squared with the ideological pursuit of freedom," he said.


    This is *very* interesting. There is an enormous engine of online services that is running as a for-profit enterprise using GPL software. phpBB, OSCommerce, and more are provided commercially, quite possibly with modifications.

    This means that in the new GPL, there will be a GNU-supported variant which requires a web service provider running a modified version of GPL software *as a web service* to release the source code to any changes they made. I'd love to hear major projects weigh in on their opinion. Would future phpBB/mysqladmin/OSC versions use this variant, or would they opt to allow non-released versions which ran only as web services to remain in the hands of the modifiers?

    It will be interesting, too, because there may be disputes over what exactly is covered. For example, phpBB distributes a lot of *.php scripts, but they also have a slew of materials like SQL Schemas and .tpl (template) files. The .php scripts are clearly labelled as GPL licensed but no such label is attached to the .sql files or the .tpl files.

    Morever, web services are very technically different because so many are written in interpreted languages. You can't modify Apache without compiling it. But with phpBB, you can open up a file, make a tweak, and it instantly takes effect on a live site. If you pre-install a GPL web service for your customer as a provider, how do you then make sure they're apprised of the license terms and don't inadvertantly commit themselves to a source code release because they edited some file in an application you installed for them?

    I can say I'll certainly be watching this development with great interest.
  • by caluml (551744) <slashdot@spCOWam ... minus herbivore> on Thursday February 03, 2005 @12:11PM (#11563528) Homepage
    I dislike it when projects say "This is under the GPL v2, or any subsequent version." Imagine if an evil company bought out the rights to create the GPL (could it happen?), and released a GPL v99 that said whatever they wanted.
    I think any lawyer would never advise you to agree to something whereby you accept any future versions.
    • no, because it says v2 or any subsequent version. If they did make a hypothetical, evil GPLv99 you could quite happily keep on using your code under v2. You wouldn't have to take it. As a result of this, you can't make the GPL any less free than it already is.
  • Extreme GPL (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @01:17PM (#11564369) Homepage
    I'd like to have, as an option, an "Extreme GPL" for truly free software. The Extreme GPL would forbid resale of the software value, in any form, including compilations. This would keep packagers like Red Hat from taking free software and putting a price tag on it. Can't sell it. Have to give it away. Because it's not yours to sell.

    Not all software should be under the Extreme GPL, but the option should be available to developers who want it.

  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Thursday February 03, 2005 @01:41PM (#11564642) Homepage

    We ought to have discussion about the GNU General Public License (GPL) v3. The GPLv2 is an important license, the most widely used free software license. We should have critical discussions to help make the GPLv3 better, and of course defining "better" requires understanding the goals of the license.

    But there's a profound unfairness in the two articles linked to here. They are filed in the "Linux & Open Source" section on the eWeek website, and not by accident. The GPL was initially written well before either the Linux kernel or the open source movement began and it was written to serve the purpose of furthering software freedom (an issue the open source movement does not want to talk about because it gets in the way of making their pitch to business, this movement's main audience, on "solid pragmatic grounds rather than ideological tub-thumping", as their FAQ says. This name-calling is starkly less insightful than the analysis the Free Software Foundation offers about the open source movement [gnu.org]). So, there is simple miscrediting going on here, but it's also ironic that is no "GNU/Linux & Free Software" section at this website. Such a section would be far more accurate for describing stories about the most widely used and most important free software license.

    When version 3 of the GNU GPL is released, it will be the first version to come out that had a chance of being edited by someone involved in the open source movement. As far as I can tell, nobody from the open source movement has had a hand in revising any version of the GPL. The GPL was written by people from the FSF (and the listed author is the FSF). Yet the GPL is routinely cited as an open source license by proponents of that movement, essentially taking credit for work that nobody in that movement did.

    The Linux kernel is but one program in a complete GNU/Linux system. It's ironic that this license is so pivotal to the development of the GNU/Linux OS but GNU can't get just a share of the credit [gnu.org].

    Of the two men featured in articles which are linked to in this Slashdot thread, one is an authority on the GPL and a co-author of the GPL, the other is someone who exhibits no significant insight into how the free software community came to be or what the GPL is here to accomplish. I'm grateful that Linus Torvalds began the Linux kernel and continues to work on the most widely used fork of that kernel, but this is not about the technical inner workings of the Linux kernel, where Linus Torvalds is unquestionably an authority on the matter. Torvalds is no authority on the GPL or software freedom in general. If you point your friends to these two articles, please don't give Moglen and Torvalds equal billing here. Equal billing would either diminish the attention we should pay to Moglen's comments on this matter or give Torvald's comments more attention than he deserves on this topic.

  • Patents & the GPL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by polyp2000 (444682) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @02:18PM (#11565093) Homepage Journal
    One of the suggestions is that the new GPL should address patent concerns. While one half of me thinks this should be addressed - the other half thinks that doing this might show an acceptance and recognition of software patents by this chunk of the Open Source community. This could be a dangerous thing to do.

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