The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is due to release the second draft of the GNU general public license version 3 (GPLv3) Tuesday, according to sources close to the organization.
Created by Richard Stallman in 1989 for the GNU free operating system project, the GPL is a popular license for free and open-source software (FOSS) including the Linux operating system, MySQL AB's database and the Samba file and print server project. Last fully revised in 1991, the GPL gives users the right to freely study, copy, modify, reuse, share and redistribute software.
The FSF released the first draft of GPLv3 in January and two areas of the proposed license in relation to software patent licensing and digital rights management (DRM) generated plenty of debate.
One of the draft's provisions requires large software distributors who own patents and cross license patents with their peers to "shield downstream users" of their applications against any potential patent infringement claims. The other provision prevents GPL-licensed software from being used in DRM copy-protection software.
The DRM provision immediately drew the ire of Linux kernel developer Linus Torvalds who said he didn't expect the Linux kernel would adopt GPLv3.
The FSF characterized the contents of the first draft of the license as an invitation to debate suggesting that the language was likely to change over time.
Back in January, the organization planned to continue to receive feedback on the initial draft until early May and then start work on the second draft of the license. At that time, it was hoping to release the second draft in late May.
If the second GPLv3 draft meets with the general approval of the FOSS community, it could be the final version of the license, although the FSF didn't think that was likely in January, planning a "last-call" third draft for the fall.