Where, Oh Where, Is the GPLv3?

The GPLv3 should have been out by now. What happened? (Linux-Watch)

Almost two years ago, the FSF (Free Software Foundation) started work on the first update of the GNU GPL (General Public License) in over a decade. A last-minute hitch, though, is keeping the license from appearing.

The FSF announced at the May 2005 LinuxWorld Expo that the GPLv3 would be out soon . The project has taken a little longer than expected. At last report, the GPLv3 (GNU General Public License 3) was to be out by early 2007.

According to Peter Brown, the FSFs executive director, "We continue to work on the details of the GPLv3 as it relates to the situation presented by the Novell and Microsoft deal. We are researching issues related to potential unintended consequences of the language we plan to adopt. As soon as we are satisfied with the results of our research we plan to bring forward the next draft."

As written, the patent clauses in the Novell/Microsoft agreement do not violate the current terms of the GPLv2. The leader of the FSF and chief author of the GPL, Richard Stallman, explained at a GPL meeting in Tokyo in November 2006: "What has happened is, Microsoft has not given Novell a patent license, and thus, section 7 of GPL version 2 does not come into play. Instead, Microsoft offered a patent license that is rather limited to Novells customers alone."

Stallman went on to say that "perhaps its a good thing that Microsoft did this now, because we discovered that the text we had written for GPL version 3 would not have blocked this, but its not too late and were going to make sure that when GPL version 3 really comes out it will block such deals."

Sources close to the creation of the new version of the GPL believed that correcting this language wouldnt take long to craft. If so, the GPLv3 would still have appeared by its last scheduled delivery date of January 15, 2007. That did not prove to be the case.

It now appears that there may be one more draft of the GPLv3 before the final version is released. [Sources believe] that the next draft should appear on or immediately before its annual associate member and activist meeting March 27 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

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