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GNU is Not Unix

A Year of GPLv3 242

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that's-one-better-than-two-right dept.
javipas writes "GPLv3 and LGPLv3 were released one year ago, on 29 June 2007. Palamida, who tracks Open Source projects, has made a study of the current situation of these licenses along with AGPLv3, which was released later, in November. The number of projects that have made the transition to these licenses has grown over the last months, and it seems than AGPLv3 has captured a great interest lately. Black Duck Software, a company that tracks Open Source projects too, has made its own study with similar results, and although GPLv3 and its variants have a good adoption rate, the interviews published on the Palamida site (Stallman, Chris Di Bona) show that the acceptance of GPLv3 has still a long way to walk."
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A Year of GPLv3

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  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @05:30PM (#24022457) Homepage

    There's two big news - the anti-tivoization and anti-patent clause. The rest are niceties like better internationalization, compatibility with other licenses etc.

    Now, the anti-tivoization clause is rather weak as long as the kernel doesn't go GPLv3. It protects your work from being used in a tivo, but not creating a tivo. If the kernel went GPLv3 on the other hand, you'd have a big problem making any kind of tivo as any code running on top could be modified using a modified kernel. The scares of the "appliance PC-lookalike" seem quite overrated at this point, there's a few special appliance boxes but no big whoop. The anti-patent clause... well, I'm still waiting for anyone with serious patent claims to actually claim them. Didn't Microsoft have 200 or so? Or was that just a bunch of hot air. As long as it's nothing but hot air and FUD, it doesn't seem to change much at all.

    Maybe RMS still is a visionary but I think in this case he's seen further ahead in the crystal ball than where we are. I still haven't seen any compelling cases where the GPLv3 is needed.

    • I see one big difference: the GPL is a distribution license, but the AGPL is a EULA. The best I can say for it is that it may not be enforceable [honeypot.net].

      • by gomiam (587421)
        And, of course, the non-lawyer has been lucky enough to catch that possible meaning which, by the way, seems to be much like the terms on the GPL: making the source code available through the network or on a physical medium.
      • But EULAs usually aren't enforceable to restrict the user meaning, if the EULA says I can make no backup copies but say copyright law allowed me 2 backup copies, the company couldn't use the EULA to sue me. Now, if the EULA said you got say 120 minutes of tech support each month for this company, that is a right, not a restriction, so the company couldn't back down from that as it was a contract. So something using the AGPL has to provide source or else it is considered fraud/lying/whatever the legal ter
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I see one big difference: the GPL is a distribution license, but the AGPL is a EULA.

        No, AGPL is still purely a grant of rights that are normally reserved to the copyright holder.

        The best I can say for it is that it may not be enforceable [honeypot.net].

        Very funny. Even if you somehow could get a judge to agree with that, you still haven't managed to keep your modifications to yourself.

        If you really wanted to keep the source away from the users, I'd think you'd want to look into mechanisms that don't rely on making changes to the software. Something like putting it behind an apache instance with mod_rewrite to redirect the download URL to an error page, or an inte

        • No, AGPL is still purely a grant of rights that are normally reserved to the copyright holder.

          No. The GPL is a grant of copying rights. The AGPL is a EULA in that it compels its users to behave a certain way; specifically that they have to share so-licensed code with anyone permitted to use the application. This is entirely different from the GPL.

          If you have a shell server hosting a forked copy of GCC, you may keep those changes private (so long as you don't distribute the copy itself). An AGPL'ed GCC would require you to give a copy of your changes to anyone you allowed to use it. This is a ne

          • No, AGPL is still purely a grant of rights that are normally reserved to the copyright holder.

            No. The GPL is a grant of copying rights. The AGPL is a EULA in that it compels its users to behave a certain way; specifically that they have to share so-licensed code with anyone permitted to use the application. This is entirely different from the GPL.

            No, it says that the program must offer to let users receive the source, not that you have to offer it or assist the program in making good on its offer.

            If you have a shell server hosting a forked copy of GCC, you may keep those changes private (so long as you don't distribute the copy itself). An AGPL'ed GCC would require you to give a copy of your changes to anyone you allowed to use it.

            No, it would require you to not remove or break the --download-source-to=somefile.tgz option when making your changes. You don't have to do anything, the program does it on its own.

            • No, it would require you to not remove or break the --download-source-to=somefile.tgz option when making your changes. You don't have to do anything, the program does it on its own.

              In other words, you are required to act in a certain way even without distributing the software. That's a EULA, and sucks whether it's MS or the FSF. I love the FSF and have been a proud supporter, but they're wrong on this one.

      • I see one big difference: the GPL is a distribution license, but the AGPL is a EULA.

        Tell that to the OpenOffice.org people -- they seem to think the GPL is an EULA too (because they include it in the installer where an EULA usually goes and force you to click "I Agree" to install).

      • by torstenvl (769732)

        the AGPL is a EULA

        [citation needed]

        [EULAs] may not be enforceable

        [citation needed]

    • by McDutchie (151611) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @05:45PM (#24022605) Homepage

      Maybe RMS still is a visionary but I think in this case he's seen further ahead in the crystal ball than where we are.

      Uh, yeah. He always does. That's why he's a visionary.

  • I've seen an effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @05:39PM (#24022535) Journal
    the GPL 3 convinced me to use a BSD-style license for my projects. I want to share the code, not enforce political views I disagree with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)

      I want to share the code, not enforce political views I disagree with.

      No matter how good you think the intentions you have are. If *insert corporation here* wants your code they can take it and use it to create restrictions for the user. The GPLv3 allows the user to take away those and use it on the product. Hardly enforcing political views. Basically, the GPL is to allow the most freedom for end users and make sure that the end users can trust you. If say Linus was hired by MS and decided to close down all of Linux sites, you could still get the kernel. If MS wanted to m

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I want to share the code, not enforce political views I disagree with.

      OK, I can understand wanting to share code but with a BSD style license the people you're sharing your code with are under no obligation to keep sharing it. Some people think that code that is shared should stay shared otherwise the point of sharing is largely defeated. If you feel that way then a GPL license is what you need. It's not about politics - it's just about choosing a license that fits your view of what 'shared code' should mean.

      • by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @06:47PM (#24023275)

        OK, I can understand wanting to share code but with a BSD style license the people you're sharing your code with are under no obligation to keep sharing it.

        And what exactly is wrong with that? Some people want to share software with everyone, even if they are douchebags. So some company doesn't share it, but the original code is still out there. If people prefer the rebranded version and the original dies a slow death, then so what? It's not like people are writing open source for their own ego are they?

    • Political Views (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ClientNine (1261974)
      I agree. I think the outrage over Tivo is missing the point-- TIVO ISN'T HURTING ANYONE. The availability of the software has enabled the creation of an interesting consumer product, giving all of us the free choice to buy one or not.

      If the GPLv3 prevents products like Tivo from appearing, then it's a Bad Thing.

      People really need to realize that someone else making money doesn't harm them. This "I want everyone else to suffer" pseudo-socialism is NOT making the world a better place, just a slightly
      • by compro01 (777531)

        If the company is sensible, it doesn't do anything of the sort. It merely states that they need to make the source available in some manner to the person who buy's the product. It in no way prohibits them from making money.

      • Re:Political Views (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Znork (31774) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @06:42PM (#24023215)

        giving all of us the free choice to buy one or not.

        And when I donate source code I donate it with the intention that any end user be allowed to modify and run it, wherever or on whatever they recieved that code from. If Tivo wants to prevent the end user from doing that they have the free choice to not use my code.

        If the GPLv3 prevents products like Tivo from appearing, then it's a Bad Thing.

        If Tivo's abuse of the intent of GPL prevents products _better_ than Tivo from appearing, I'd say that's a Bad Thing. And finding examples where customers would have a better product if they could load modified software on their Tivo ain't exactly hard.

        People really need to realize that someone else making money doesn't harm them.

        Most Free software proponents have no problem with someone else making money. They do, however, have a problem with someone else harming others.

        pseudo-socialism is NOT making the world a better place, just a slightly more egalitarian one

        Free software is the epitome of free market economics; it's the enforcement of absolute competition.

        Considering that proprietary software builds upon state protected monopoly rights and, as is becoming quite obvious, has more in common with former soviet style state factories (you _will_ use Vista and you _will_ like it; no alternate providers here), I'd say comments about socialism are weak.

        • Re:Political Views (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Snocone (158524) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @07:11PM (#24023541) Homepage

          Free software is the epitome of free market economics; it's the enforcement of absolute competition ... proprietary software builds upon state protected monopoly rights and, as is becoming quite obvious, has more in common with former soviet style state factories (you _will_ use Vista and you _will_ like it; no alternate providers here), I'd say comments about socialism are weak.

          Er, no. The GPL builds upon state protected monopoly rights as well. Otherwise, how could it be enforced?

          If your license is anything other than "public domain" then you are, indeed, forcing your wishes upon others backed by the power of the State.

          Source is not truly "free" unless everyone is FREE to disregard your wishes completely. Setting rules they must abide by, which the GPL does, makes it NOT free.

          An accurate name for source licensed under GPL and similar licenses would be "Communal" -- or "Community" -- or perhaps "Cooperative" if you want to avoid the philosophically accurate association with "Communism". "Free", however, is not. Only public domain source does not rely on the coercive power of the State, and therefore only public domain source can be claimed with intellectual honesty to truly be "free".

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

            Er, no. The GPL builds upon state protected monopoly rights as well. Otherwise, how could it be enforced?

            By market forces. The goal is that the market moves to the point where it will not accept a closed-source product, just as today the automobile market will not accept cars with their hoods welded shut. At that point there is no need for the GPL.

            An accurate name for source licensed under GPL and similar licenses would be "Communal" -- or "Community" -- or perhaps "Cooperative" if you want to avoid the philosophically accurate association with "Communism". "Free", however, is not.

            It all depends on your definition of "Free." RMS's "Free" applies to the liberty of the source code, not the liberty of the developer. RMS's "Free" means that the source can never be locked up in a proprietary prison. Your version of free seems to allow that. Y

        • And when I donate source code I donate it with the intention that any end user be allowed to modify and run it, wherever or on whatever they recieved that code from. If Tivo wants to prevent the end user from doing that they have the free choice to not use my code.

          Your code isn't "donated"--you're still profiting from it, you're just not charging for it. End users would be able to use your code wherever and whenever they wanted. What you're really saying is that you want access to Tivo's code in exchange for giving them yours for free.

          That's not intellectual freedom. That's cross-licensing. There's nothing wrong with that, but don't hide behind a bullshit philosophy and claims of "freedom". Tivo isn't preventing the end user from seeing, having, modifying, using

      • by setagllib (753300)

        The GPLv3 doesn't prevent products like Tivo from appearing, it limits the limitations they can place on users. The products will be made anyway, because the market is there for them, and as long as using GPL code is still a net win for the company, it will have to tolerate restrictions placed on itself as well. It's just economics for them - the GPL may give them some new costs but the code involved saves them a lot of costs.

    • by junglee_iitk (651040) * on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @06:11PM (#24022899)

      Good for you. I personally have written a lot of little utilities (web-applications and other bullshit) which I released in public domain.

      I never understood the whole point of BSD, ever. If you want to share the code, so much so that whether I am not using it at all or using it to earn millions is something you don't care, then why are you licensing it?

      Not trolling... seriously I am asking.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by larry bagina (561269)
        1) The BSD license has a disclaimer of warranty, whereas public domain doesn't.

        2) The intentions are clear and well recognized. With some code, it's not quite clear what license (if any) it's under, restrictions, where it's from, etc.

      • by Chemisor (97276) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @06:33PM (#24023125)

        > If you want to share the code, then why are you licensing it?

        Because of the liability disclaimer. Public domain does not provide you with any liability protection in the US, and while I have not heard of anyone being sued for his public domain programs, it could happen, and I certainly don't want to be the first.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          while I have not heard of anyone being sued for his public domain programs, it could happen, and I certainly don't want to be the first.

          Which pretty much sums up all that's wrong with the crippling legal system in the US. It's the kind of "I'd walk down the sidewalk but I'm afraid a car driver might be distracted and sue me for it. I've never heard of it happen, but it could happen, and I certainly don't want to be the first." I guess it's a natural response to the environment, but looking from some distance away it seems completely crazy.

      • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @06:45PM (#24023255) Homepage Journal

        I'd guess that the primary effect is notification of whose code it is, since the copyright notice has to be included in the code or documentation. It probably also provides better protection against someone else claiming copyright on it, since in the public domain case there is no real copyright holder to sue them and make them stop.

      • by setagllib (753300)

        The minimal 2-clause BSDL only staples your copyright and disclaimer to the source. That's "enough" for many developers. Some people don't even care about that, and go public. Some people want more, and go GPL or EPL or whatever.

        Functionally, 2-clause BSDL is identical to MIT. The slightly more common 3-cause BSDL includes a clause which basically says "don't use the developer's name for endorsement of derivative works".

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The previous replies to the parent post are correct, and in addition, it is doubtful whether it is legally possible to write "public domain code" at all. You automatically hold an exclusive copyright to anything you write (assuming it isn't a work for hire); in order to allow others to freely reuse your code without worrying about getting sued, you need to surrender those rights somehow. A BSD-style license is the simplest way to do that. You could accomplish the same thing by stating that you are placing i
    • if you want to share your code, you can use a bsd-style license. if you however want your code to be shared, you should use a copyleft license like the GPL.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      the GPL 3 convinced me to use a BSD-style license for my projects. I want to share the code, not enforce political views I disagree with.

      Does the GPLv3 prevent any new projects from adopting the GPLv2 license? (With or without the "or any later version" statement).

      Just like the old (GPL incompatible) BSD license was changed to the new compatible one (removing the "advertising clause"), but projects have gone ahead and used the old BSD license anyways (because they want the advertising clause, for example).

    • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @06:54PM (#24023353) Homepage

      You might want to look at what happened to the Java Model Railroad Interface project [sourceforge.net]. They used a permissive licence, only to find that someone else got a patent (of dubious validity, but nonetheless good enough to shake people down for money) which is claimed to cover their code, and then sued the original developers to stop distribution of the free version, while taking the code (as permitted by the licence) to sell a proprietary version themselves. You might want to choose a licence which gives you some defence against patent aggression, and GPLv3 is the latest and greatest in this respect.

      But from other people's point of view, BSD licence (without the obnoxious advertising clause) is fine. They can still incorporate the code into GPLed programs if they wish, so there is no real licence fragmentation. Much better than one of the Yet Another Licences which end up fragmenting code into immiscible globs.

      • They can still incorporate the code into GPLed programs if they wish

        And not give it back to the BSD devs. Woo!

        While they're under no obligation to do so, you'd think that the GPL-using devs who feel so strongly about giving back their code would give back to the people they built their code upon.

    • by DVega (211997) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @07:08PM (#24023509)

      If you disagree with GPLv3, you also should disagree with GPLv2. The spirit is the same "dont let anyone take a free-software piece of code, modified it and ban you from modify his modification".

      But GPLv2 had a bug. TIVO has found a way to do that. You can modify the code, but the hardware will reject your modification. Your right to "hack" with the source code has been abolished.

      I dont see any reason why you should like GPLv2 and not GPLv3.

      If you think there is nothing wrong with people taking your code and not letting you play with his code, you should have gone with a BSD-style license. Otherwise GPLv3 is an improvement of GPLv2.

      I know that some people think that GPLv3 is bad (most notably Linux Torvalds) but after reading their objections I really dont understand their logic. It seems to me more of an ego fight against RMS than sensible disagreement.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by synthespian (563437)

        I'd *really* like to see all you GPL addicts try to run a small firm selling embedded software/instrumentation/whatever that's GPLed - and having to give all your code to the competition.

        Oh, wait, you don't want yo do that. You only want the service model where you work for someone else. You dream of being the salary men (web devs notwithstanding - not all software is a web app).

        The GPL model is utterly useless in areas where hardware and software go together.

        You are clueless. You no think. Get off the inte

    • BTW, is it my impression or the number of project that have business-friendly licenses (i.e., can be incorporated in commercial products) has increased?

      For instance, Google, etc.

      ANyways, who the fuck wants to contribute to a project where the main developer can take your code, say "thanks very much, a-hole" and dual-license the thing while you make no money?

      That's the real GPL loophole - it allows someone to get rich while you get none. It's a 0/+ interaction. The BSD license is a +/+ interaction (same rule

    • by msimm (580077)
      Haven't we grown tired of this kind of trolling? BSD = good. GPL = good. There are lots of licenses so that *you* can enjoy the greatest freedom of them all: you choose the license with works best for you. So get the fuck over yourself.
  • by ArcRiley (737114) <arcriley@ubuntu.com> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @06:01PM (#24022777)
    It appears that their tracking of adoption rates are based solely on projects hosted on Sourceforge.

    Most GNU projects are hosted on Savannah, many are hosted on GNA!, and many are self-hosted. It would be more accurate to use a service such as Ohloh [ohloh.net] to track license adoption.

    I believe you'd find, when these other data sources are included, the numbers are very different.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Telvin_3d (855514)

      Always depends on what you are measuring. Just sticking with Sourceforge you would get reasonable numbers for tracking the shift of old projects between GPL2 and GPL3, as well as the percentage of new projects using each. If you are trying to track all OSS licences you would need a bigger sample size.

  • If I'm wrong about this--please correct me; I'd love to know that the GPLv3 doesn't prevent us from doing this! Our company uses x264 in commercial products and abides by the GPL. One thing we are considering is creating an FPGA-based addon card using a low-cost FPGA to accelerate the motion search. The code for this FPGA would be released as GPL also. However, there is no open source driver to load code onto the card--in fact, one requires the developer kit in order to modify the code on the FPGA. We
    • GPLv3 would, in my understanding, prevent us from distributing such boards.

      No, you're confusing stuff.
      GPLv3 is about using DRM to reject modifications that would otherwise be possible.
      - In your case, any potential developer could pay a developer kit and then, once that piece of hardware secured, run any modification he wants on any of your product - both his own or anyone else's. It is possible, although it costs some money, to modify the code and your company isn't actively trying to pull tricks to prevent modifications. It's just that the hardware requirement aren't cheap. But t

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If I'm wrong about this--please correct me; I'd love to know that the GPLv3 doesn't prevent us from doing this! Our company uses x264 in commercial products and abides by the GPL. One thing we are considering is creating an FPGA-based addon card using a low-cost FPGA to accelerate the motion search. The code for this FPGA would be released as GPL also. However, there is no open source driver to load code onto the card--in fact, one requires the developer kit in order to modify the code on the FPGA. We would be selling these boards individually, without the developer kit (an extra $1000 purchase or similar). Therefore, its a closed platform... but we can't do anything about it. GPLv3 would, in my understanding, prevent us from distributing such boards. So we're sticking to GPLv2.

      "...this requirement does not apply if neither you nor any third party retains the ability to install modified object code..."

      Ask your legal department about whether that line might help, and also about whether "buy a dev kit" is valid as part of the installation information. And find out whether a dev kit is really required, or just a JTAG cable and appropriate compiler.

    • Disclaimer: IANAL. Do not take this advice without consulting one and confirming that it is correct, especially since you're talking about a company's actions.

      The GPLv3 does not require that you help the user modify the code on the device; it only requires that you don't hinder him. In fact, you could burn GPLv3 code into ROM (which would, of course, be entirely unmodifiable) and be okay. It is only when you artificially disallow modification that would otherwise be technically possible by using DRM that yo

  • or later (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sentientbrendan (316150) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:44PM (#24024933)

    The actual number of projects using GPLv3 seems quite small, about 3000, and of course the most important GPL project, the Linux kernel, will never change for both legal reasons (not all committers are available), and Linus' ideological reasons.

    Is the GPLv3 even meaningful if the kernel does not change licenses? My understanding is that it was primarily designed to undermine Tivo and DRM, which cannot be done in a meaningful if the kernel isn't part of the deal.

    The article tries to conflate licenses issued with the "or later" clause as GPLv3; however, I think they misunderstand the legal implications of that clause. It means that the *user* may follow the terms and conditions of later licenses; however, the user does not gain any further rights in GPLv3 as I understand it, the author merely loses rights (to use the resulting binaries under locked down hardware). Since the *author* can still use the code under the GPLv2 and so can tivo, there is effectively no change until the license itself is changed, so GPLv2 with "or later" clauses don't matter.

    GPLv3 seems dead on arrival. A number of FSF projects will use it, but I don't know of any FSF projects where the anti tivoization stuff would even have any effect, unless I don't understand the new restrictions properly.

    • Re:or later (Score:4, Interesting)

      by drfireman (101623) <.moc.grebmik. .ta. .nad.> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:00PM (#24025061) Homepage

      Is the GPLv3 even meaningful if the kernel does not change licenses?

      The incompatibility of GPLv2 and GPLv3 makes it a little viral. I have a fairly small open source project, but we depend on three libraries that have gone with GPL3. I didn't really want to switch, but if I want to use the latest versions of those libraries, I have no choice.

      I suspect that the number of projects going with GPLv3 would be greater if people met their legal obligations.

      dan

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