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GPL Version 3 Fairness or Freedom? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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GPL Version 3 Fairness or Freedom?. Andrew Katz. Background. GPL Version 2 – 1991 Still the current version Venerable drafting Remember GPL V3 is still a draft. Core Philosophy behind GPL.

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  • GPL Version 2 – 1991
    • Still the current version
    • Venerable drafting
    • Remember GPL V3 is still a draft
core philosophy behind gpl
Core Philosophy behind GPL

If you take GPL code, modify or combine it and distribute it, you are under an obligation to make the modified source code available to third parties

Freedom 0: Freedom to run

Freedom 1: Freedom to study and adapt

Freedom 2: Freedom to redistribute

Freedom 3: Freedom to improve and release the improvements to the public

gpl the top 3 consequences
GPL – the Top 3 Consequences
  • If you use GPL software unmodified, you don’t need to publish it;
  • There is nothing preventing you from running GPL software on a proprietary operating system (or vice versa)
  • If you modify or combine GPL software (or your developer does) and you use it only for your own internal purposes, you don’t need to publish it;
  • Fairness

It’s not fair that someone can take my work freely given, and then incorporate it into their own proprietary code….or…

You have a choice: you can use my code on my terms, or you can go elsewhere

philosophical interlude
Philosophical Interlude
  • “Freedom”. The guiding aim of the Free Software Foundation
  • “Fairness” – Torvald’s take
  • But are people more swayed by freedom or fairness?
  • Revolutions are allegedly about freedom…but in reality people care more about fairness.
licence versioning clause
Licence Versioning Clause
  • Either no version is mentioned, in which case a licensee can refer to ANY version;


  • A licence specifies version X or later.
  • Note: Linux currently says v2 only
  • GPL (v2 or 3) doesn’t actually say it’s an option to force it to stick to one version. But everyone assumes this would work.
problems with gpl2
Problems with GPL2
  • Nascent internet
  • “TIVO”isation
  • DRM
  • Patents
  • Uncertainty of “combination” and “derivative work”
  • International issues
how gpl3 seeks to address these
How GPL3 Seeks to Address these
  • Emphasis on delivery by file server (and bit torrent)
  • Provision requiring that GPL software must be provided with private keys to enable it to be run on closed hardware
  • Must be able to sign work so it functions on the target device
  • Hideously complex. For discussion later
  • Change in wording to “convey” from “distribute”
  • Some additions, such as “right to use clause”
will gpl2 replace gpl3
Will GPL2 Replace GPL3?
  • Many GPL projects are FSF led
  • Linux is the biggest non-FSF GPL project
  • What are the issues we are trying to address?
  • How is GPL3 better
    • For end users
    • For licensors
    • For projects
gpl 3 for end users licensors and businesses
GPL 3 for end users, licensors and businesses
  • No significant difference, other than they will be able to use TiVOised code. No right to obtain the source of ANY GPL software
  • Businesses: patent clause may cause problems. Licence is too broad. Covers too many applications
  • Projects. GPL2 is easier to reform forks.
the roadmap
The roadmap
  • Current discussion draft produced in July
  • Third discussion draft to be produced in November.
  • Final version out January 2007
drilling down into the clauses
Drilling down into the clauses
  • Overview of significant differences
three most critical mistakes
Three most critical mistakes
  • Ask: Do you have a GPL business model?
  • If not, be careful with combining and creating derivative works of code
  • Be careful about “distribution”, even if you have an asp business model.