But, it also notes that there is some bracketed text at the end of the fifth paragraph that would let companies distribute GPLv3 software even if they have made such an arrangement, as long as the deal was made before March 28.
However, if that text is included in the final license, it will allow Novell to distribute software under GPLv3.
The FSF said that a number of companies in the free software community are concerned that the language the foundation has proposed would also target them because of other agreements theyve made, like broad patent cross-licenses, that dont harm the community.
"This would have the side effect of allowing Novell to distribute software under GPLv3. We are still evaluating the risks and costs associated with this text, and look forward to additional feedback," the foundation said.
The issue of whether or not Novell can distribute GPLv3 code strikes at the heart of its agreement with Microsoft. In fact, when Novell filed its delayed annual report with the SEC on May 25, it said that Microsoft may be forced to stop distributing SUSE Linux coupons if the text of the third draft of the GPLv3 was included in the final license.
"If the final version of GPLv3 contains terms or conditions that interfere with our agreement with Microsoft or our ability to distribute GPLv3 code, Microsoft may cease to distribute SUSE Linux coupons in order to avoid the extension of its patent covenants to a broader range of GPLv3 software recipients; we may need to modify our relationship with Microsoft under less advantageous terms than our current agreement, or we may be restricted in our ability to include GPLv3 code in our products, any of which could adversely affect our business and our operating results," the Novell filing said.
"In such a case, we would likely explore alternatives to remedy the conflict, but there is no assurance that we would be successful in these efforts," the annual report said.
As to the question of why distributors only have to provide installation information for user products, the foundation said it has "compromised its strategy and not its ideals" in this regard.
Some companies effectively outsource their entire IT department to other companies, and while the computers and applications are installed in the companys offices, they are managed remotely by some service provider.
"In some of these situations, the hardware is locked down, only the service provider has the key, and the customers consider that to be a desirable security feature. We think its unfortunate that people would be willing to give up their freedom like this. But they should be able to fend for themselves, and the market provides plenty of alternatives to these services that would not lock them down," the foundation said.
As such, a compromise has been introduced into the draft license that says distributors are only required to provide installation information when they are distributing the software on a user product and where the customers buying power is likely to be less organized.
"Digital Restrictions Management is focused largely in consumer devices, and everyone, including large companies, is becoming increasingly worried about the effects of DRM thanks to recent developments like the release of Microsofts Windows Vista—we think that the proposed language will still provide us with enough leverage to effectively thwart DRM," the foundation said.
"We still believe you have a fundamental right to modify the software on all the hardware you own. If such problems [as locked-down hardware] arise substantially in other domains, we stand ready to extend this provision," the explanation document said.