Analysts, Lawyers Dissect New GPLv3 Draft

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2007-03-30

The new GPL drafts digital ink hadnt had time to dry before everyone began voicing their opinion on it. Some observers hate it, while others think this version represents a significant step forward in making the GPLv3 palatable both to the Linux community and big business.

When it comes to disliking the latest GPL draft, it would be hard to find someone who felt more strongly about it then ACT (Association for Competitive Technology) Executive Director Morgan Reed, who said: "The newest draft of the GPLv3 is clearly designed to build unscalable walls between open source and proprietary software. The rest of the world has decided to make software more interoperable, but Stallman and the FSF are focused on ideology rather than the practical concerns of users."

ACT is a Washington, D.C., lobbyist firm representing, according to the company, small business innovators. Reed continued: "It started with four simple freedoms, but the new GPL looks more like the U.S. Tax Code. The new draft no longer just defines freedom; it is designed to punish companies and business models that Richard Stallman just doesnt like. Novell, Microsoft, TiVo, Nokia and Linux-based phone manufacturers are all in the crosshairs. In fact, the new version is now so complex and legally squishy that it is essentially a full employment guarantee for intellectual property lawyers."

John Ferrell, founding partner of Carr & Ferrell LLP, a Silicon Valley intellectual property law firm, agreed that with this draft the GPLv3 is getting more complicated. "With each revision, the once GPL for Dummies is quickly requiring a law department to interpret and understand," he said.

However, Ferrell said he also feels the GPLv3 is "becoming more sensitive to the legal needs of mainstream software manufacturers." Far from punishing companies, he sees this draft of the GPLv3 "protecting companies from liability associated with accidentally incorporating protected software, as well as protecting proprietary software improvements by defining the separation of GPL and non-GPL works."

Read the full story on Linux-Watch: Analysts, Legal Eagles Dissect New GPLv3 Draft

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