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By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-04-05 Print this article Print

With regard to the discussion process around the first draft of GPL 3.0, Moglen said some 700 comments have been received thus far, a number far lower than he had imagined when the discussion document was released earlier this year. But that is not because of disinterest in the process, but rather because the system created for this is creating a high quality of dialogue and avoiding the duplication of comments.
The feedback is helping the FSF see alternative arguments that it had not considered, where clarification is needed and how the dialogue around policy could be sharpened, he said.
But, while there are a wide range of issues that have been raised so far, the patent and DRM (Digital Rights Management) provisions are the two that are attracting the most comments. While the current patent system is of limited value to most companies and creates great uncertainty, doubt and unhappiness among their customers, anything GPL 3.0 does to make them responsible for the downstream consequences of those patents involves a change and raises fears. "Nobody loves the current system or how they have to deal with it, but they also dont want what they see as unilateral nuclear disarmament," Moglen said. "The case between Research In Motion and patent holding company NTP was a very important moment as it was a stark reminder that as long as there are patents out there, no one is safe, no matter how many promises they have." GPL 3.0 brings with it an incremental change down a road that all of these patent holders are going to have to go down, he said. With regard to the GPL 3.0 DRM provisions, Moglen said this issue has the potential to become a crisis on the same scale that patents are today and that license is simply protecting the free software industrys ability to create code by tinkering with it. The GPL 3s DRM provisions are raising eyebrows. Click here to read more. "The ability to tinker with and change code without constraint is an effective tool for free software developers, and without it our mode of creation will be obliterated. DRM attempts to take that tool away from us," he said. Moglen said he expects that by mid-May the FSF will start issuing opinions and resolving issues raised in the commentary process. That will be followed by the release of a second GPL 3.0 DISCUSSION document, along with the first discussion document of the Lesser GPL. Following another break in the fall to consider comments, issue opinions and resolve issues on that second draft will be a last-call comment period of some 60 days and the wrapping up of the process. "By late 2006 or early 2007 we will issue a set of copyleft licenses that are updated to current market conditions and which we expect will remain effective for seven to 10 years," Moglen said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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