GPLv3 third draft: Linus likes it, ACT hates it

Initial opinions on the latest GPLv3 draft have been wide ranging, including some praise from noted critic Linus Torvalds

Sun has recently become a major flag waver for GPL after its surprise November decision to make its Java platform available under GPLv2 as well as its own CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License). It's also been suggested that Sun may look to make its OpenSolaris operating system available under the GPL as well.

Phipps was still getting to grips with the implications of the language added to the draft in relation to the Microsoft/Novell deal. "I need to read it several times before coming to a conclusion," he wrote.

Phipps also noted the change to the timeline for GPLv3. "I'd been expecting the final draft; this is now an extra interim draft, and we'll not see the final version until the summer," he wrote. "And there are several signs that we'll see more frequent updates to the license -- there are indications that the DRM stuff might be extended to different kinds of devices, for example," Phipps added.

"I'm happy that the GPLv3 process has completed its next milestone, and understand why the FSF has seen it necessary to proceed at a pace somewhat slower than originally intended," Kaj Arno, vice president, community, at open-source database vendor MySQL AB, wrote in an e-mail.

In December, Arno announced that MySQL had refined its GPL licensing plan for its MySQL 5.0 and MySQL 5.1 databases from "GPLv2 or later" to "GPLv2 only" to make the move to GPLv3 optional not an obligation. "Until the new version of GPL is finalized we won't be in a position to determine whether GPLv3 is an appropriate license for MySQL products," Arno added.

Not surprisingly, the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), a technology lobbying organization, which has been highly critical of GPLv3 especially in relation to DRM in the past, was negative about the latest draft of the license.

"The newest draft of the GPLv3 is clearly designed to build unscalable walls between open source and proprietary software," Morgan Reed, ACT executive director, said in a statement.

He described the latest draft as resembling 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 [FSF president and principal author of the GPL] just doesn't like," Reed added. "In fact, the new version is now so complex and legally squishy that it is essentially a full employment guarantee for intellectual property lawyers."

With still another draft to come of the GPLv3 and major changes occurring to the language of the license each time a new draft is issued, nothing is as yet set in stone.

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