GPLv3 Third Draft

Quince flowers

The third draft of the GPLv3 came out this morning. There's a lot of text there, and obviously I've not had time to read it all yet (especially the long explanatory document). I took a quick look at the 'redline' over breakfast and there are some welcome enhancements, such as the explicit explanation about software-as-a-service:

To “convey” a work means any kind of propagation that enables other parties to make or receive copies, excluding sublicensing. Mere inter- action with a user through a computer network, with no transfer of a copy, is not conveying.

The language concerning DRM has also changed substantially and now sits in section 6 and relates to the use of the code in "User Products", which could really change the implications of that mechanism:

A “User Product” is either (1) a “consumer product”, which means any tangible personal property which is normally used for personal, family, or household purposes, or (2) anything designed or sold for incorporation into a dwelling.

There's been a substantial rework to the stuff about exceptions in section 7. In its previous form, this section provided a basis for various different license to be mixed, but the new version seems to provide less opportunity for that. I wish we could work out mechanisms to allow the various FOSS communities to mix their work more easily.

I'm also not clear on the implications of the new language added to section 11 to affect patents, which is intended to close the loophole Microsoft and Novell used to get round the GPLv2. I need to read it several times before coming to a conclusion.

Over and above the actual license terms, there's a big change to the time-line. 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. 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. All very interesting, I know there will be a lot of discussion about this inside Sun over the next few weeks.

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