Is GPL 3 Dead on Arrival?

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2006-08-04 Print this article Print

Opinion: If someone creates a new GPL but Linux doesn't use it, does it matter? At all?

Weve been talking, meeting and arguing over GPL 3 for nearly two years. Recently, the second draft of the long-awaited rewrite of the popular free-software license arrived. The debate has begun all over again. If were lucky, well see a finished GPL 3 sometime in early 2007. It will have address DRM (digital rights management) and patent concerns, clarify the existing language, and, who knows, bring forth a new generation of software freedom never seen before. Or, it could sit there like a rock and not matter a whit. Guess which one Im betting on?
Its not that I think theyre doing a bad job. Some of the best and brightest people I know, like Columbia University law professor and general counsel for the FSF (Free Software Foundation) Eben Moglen, have been working hard, very hard, on the GPL.
Its just that its not going to matter. On the one hand, some of the major companies that support open source, like Hewlett-Packard, arent happy with how the latest draft handles patents. "HP had hoped that the second draft would clarify the patent provision such as to ease concern that mere distribution of a single copy of GPL-licensed software might have significant adverse IP impact on a company," said Christine Martino, HPs VP of open source and Linux, in a statement. "Unfortunately, the concern lingers in draft 2." What exactly are these problems? Good question. HP isnt giving any further explanation right now. Thats important, but the real deal-breaker for the GPL 3, as its currently written, is Linus Torvalds clear dislike for the new license. Read the full story on Linux-Watch: Is GPL 3 Dead on Arrival?
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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