The Future of Free

By eweek  |  Posted 2006-01-20 Print this article Print

Software"> Suppose some large companies with many patents were to release free software and then suppose they were to sue someone else for patent infringement, and then that somebody else tries to countersue, then our retaliation clause says he then loses the use of that program. So this is not retaliation, but rather simply reserves for the attack. The kinds of patent retaliation that we are allowing are limited such that they are against things that are clearly wrong. So, some of the patent retaliation clauses fit into our criteria and are thus made compatible. We are hoping that, in the future, some of those license drafters will decide to make their patent retaliations compatible so that their licenses can be compatible.
Do you think it will be another 15 years until GPL 4.0?
I hope not. Its not as if we decided to wait 15 years. Five years ago we were already working on this. It is just that I got pretty busy and so I had to make a big block of time. Before, we made time to have a meeting for a day. That wasnt enough. This was three months of work to get it done. I had to decide not to travel during that time. So, is the process now in the hands of the community? No. I will still be making decisions. The committees are going to take all the comments and boil them down to issues. Then they will start addressing the issues and looking at the various options. They will also try and decide how to deal with these issues, but ultimately I will be making those decisions. And, of course, if the community has found a good solution, they make that job easy. Co-author Eben Moglen says the GPL rewrite should not be seen as a democracy. Click here to read more. Is there a fundamental shift towards embracing free software and solutions? Yes, there is a gradual movement towards support for free software. There are also a large number of people who half support it, people who say they are open-source advocates and who may develop free software, because most open-source software is free software, but dont look at the political and technical aspects of respecting a users freedom, and so they are missing the central part of issue. But what they do is often a good thing. Is Microsoft the greatest threat to freedom in software? It is a mistake to think of the free software movement as an alternative to Microsoft. When we started this, Microsoft was not particularly important. In 1984, the system that people normally thought of as the system to compete with was Unix. That is why we have GNUs Not Unix: It couldnt be GNUs Not Windows because there was no Microsoft Windows then. Microsoft is simply one example of a proprietary software developer, a software developer that tries to subjugate users to keep them divided and helpless. So what we are campaigning against, and trying to help people escape, is not any company in particular, but an antisocial system where software developers put restrictions on the users. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.


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