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Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

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User offline. Last seen 11 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-22

as you all know there is right now a meeting at the MIT in Boston about the GPL v3.
The community manager of is there, and has asked the OOo community at large to provide him with requests and concerns people would have on internationalization, legal conflicts, etc.
I thought it would be interesting to get such opinions from the Libervis community. I will convey them to the OOo appropriate list.


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User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 3 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12
Re: Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

OK, let's start by summarizing what GPL v3 aims to acomplish.

From what I know so far it should address the software patents issue, the terms for use of Free Software as web based services, the issue of digital restrictions management (right?) and improved internationalisation of the license so it can be universally applied across the world (at least wherever copyright law exists).

So, for one, what do you think would be the best way to fight software patents with GPL3 license? We previously mentioned a provision that would disallow any code that is under this license to be patented, but that is obviously not going to work in case of GPL because alot of Free Software is already patented and that would just result in halting the switch from GPL2 to GPL3.

So, what else is on the plate?

Let's discuss..


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memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 3 days ago. Offline
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Re: Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

I'd just like to say there is a special IRC channel on freenode for discussing GPLv3. It is #gplv3

Just a few minutes ago there was a freenode-wide announcement of the channel and it was swarmed with people joining in. Smiling Nice to see that interest.

The annoucement also pointed that the first GPLv3 draft was released. It can be seen here:

Still, too many people may be talking there at once (too busy) so forums like this may still be best way to discuss it. Feel free to propose this forum thread there.



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Re: Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

Here is a nice article that analyzes the new GPL according to the first draft: Initial report from GPL 3 conference

Especially interesting is this:


Thus, it makes no change that would restrict remote services from using free software. This is wise in my opinion, because no reasonable observer would want to drive Google (for instance) away from free software by requiring them to release all the code that implements their ranking algorithms.

But the proposed GPL leaves an opening for experimentation: it allows people to add clauses that would require remote services to propagate their source code.

This means that if you think you have a smashing good restriction that would help the public by encouraging remote services to share their software, and you have a valuable program these services might want to use, you can release your code under the new GPL and add in your pet cause. If you strike it lucky and your software is so valuable that services want it, they will comply with your restriction.


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User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-23
Re: Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

Well, that special clause will be used on any software I release under GPL, that's for sure. Of course we can't just pull GNU/Linux from Google, that kind of thing would prevent the use of GPLv3, but we can gradually introduce this clause until it is normal and perhaps a default in GPLv4.

User offline. Last seen 11 years 51 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-12-07
Re: Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

Of course, the draft of the GPL is just a draft, not a final version. Right now I completely agree with the dispositions concerning DRM's. Obviously if we want to guarantee freedom, DRMs must be definitely out of the picture.

However, I have my concerns about patents. Whenever we write software it is like crossing a landmine of patents. What would happen, for instance, if today a free software can be created, and later a patent is granted that cover certain characteristics of that software? Of course, we could argue "prior art". However, we know how difficult it is to prove this "prior art" in court. Take all the years it took for the GNU Project to battle against a specific patent which had "prior art" because it was a feature used in GNU Emacs. Would that then mean that the free software created previous to the patent grant be instantaneously turned into proprietary software? I see this as a great difficulty concerning the GNU GPL v 3.

User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-23
Re: Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

I didn't have time to read the draft yet, but I expected it would contain something like this:

The author declares he will not use any software patents to sue those who accept the license for behaving in ways compatible to the license.
To keep your right to use this software, you must not apply for patents for features of this software, unless the process was started before the software was even written.

User offline. Last seen 11 years 51 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-12-07
Re: Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

Well.. actually it contains something like this in the Preamble:


Finally, every program is threatened constantly by software patents. We wish to avoid the special danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, the GPL makes it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.

And the text says:


d) Distribute the Object Code by offering access to copy it
from a designated place, and offer equivalent access to copy
the Corresponding Source in the same way through the same place.
You need not require recipients to copy the Corresponding Source
along with the Object Code.

[If the place to copy the Object Code is a network server, the
Corresponding Source may be on a different server that supports
equivalent copying facilities, provided you have explicitly
arranged with the operator of that server to keep the
Corresponding Source available for as long as needed to satisfy
these requirements, and provided you maintain clear directions
next to the Object Code saying where to find the Corresponding

Distribution of the Corresponding Source in accord with this section
must be in a format that is publicly documented, unencumbered by
patents, and must require no special password or key for unpacking,
reading or copying.

The Corresponding Source may include portions which do not formally
state this License as their license, but qualify under section 7
for inclusion in a work under this License. [. . .]

e) They may impose software patent retaliation, which means permission
for use of your added parts terminates or may be terminated, wholly or
partially, under stated conditions, for users closely related to any
party that has filed a software patent lawsuit (i.e., a lawsuit
alleging that some software infringes a patent). The conditions must
limit retaliation to a subset of these two cases: 1. Lawsuits that lack
the justification of retaliating against other software patent lawsuits
that lack such justification. 2. Lawsuits that target part of this
work, or other code that was elsewhere released together with the parts
you added, the whole being under the terms used here for those parts.

No other additional conditions are permitted in your terms; therefore, no
other conditions can be present on any work that uses this License. This
License does not attempt to enforce your terms, or assert that they are
valid or enforceable by you; it simply does not prohibit you from employing

When others modify the work, if they modify your parts of it, they may
release such parts of their versions under this License without additional
permissions, by including notice to that effect, or by deleting the notice
that gives specific permissions in addition to this License. Then any
broader permissions granted by your terms which are not granted by this
License will not apply to their modifications, or to the modified versions
of your parts resulting from their modifications. However, the specific
requirements of your terms will still apply to whatever was derived from
your added parts.

Unless the work also permits distribution under a previous version of
this License, all the other terms included in the work under this section
must be listed, together, in a central list in the work.

[. . .]

11. Licensing of Patents.

When you distribute a covered work, you grant a patent license to
the recipient, and to anyone that receives any version of the work,
permitting, for any and all versions of the covered work, all
activities allowed or contemplated by this License, such as
installing, running and distributing versions of the work, and using
their output. This patent license is nonexclusive, royalty-free and
worldwide, and covers all patent claims you control or have the right
to sublicense, at the time you distribute the covered work or in the
future, that would be infringed or violated by the covered work or any
reasonably contemplated use of the covered work.

If you distribute a covered work knowingly relying on a patent license,
you must act to shield downstream users against the possible patent
infringement claims from which your license protects you.

12.[7] Liberty or Death for the Program.

If conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute
the Program, or other covered work, so as to satisfy simultaneously your
obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as
a consequence you may not distribute it at all. For example, if a patent
license would not permit royalty-free redistribution by all those who
receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you
could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from

It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any
patents or other exclusive rights or to contest their legal validity.
The sole purpose of this section is to protect the integrity of the
free software distribution system. Many people have made generous
contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that
system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up
to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute
software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that

[13.[8] Geographical Limitations.

If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in certain
countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the original
copyright holder who places the Program under this License may add an
explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries,
so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus
excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as if
written in the body of this License.]

User offline. Last seen 11 years 51 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-12-07
Re: Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

Here I found a very good comment on the changes made on the GPL according to the GPLv3 draft:

User offline. Last seen 11 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-22
Re: Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

I have heard yesterday that there would be worldwide sessions (i.e sessions in several countries) held for discussing the v3. They would be organized byt the FSF itself... Anybody would have more info?

memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 3 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12
Re: Feedback for the GPL 3 forum

That's a good analysis on newsforge especially for those who aren't really into the legal speak of the actual license. Smiling

I think that considering that this is just a first draft they are on the right track to properly addressing those burning issues such as DRM, patents and greater compatibility with other Free Software licenses. In the great ongoing discussion process that's gonna last up to a year if not more there can hardly be a mistake there and that could make the final license release one of the turning points in the recent history of Free Software.

Anyway, there's one thing that went on my mind when I was reading the analysis, the preamble and other stuff on the net about it, including this most recent interview with RMS. People often easily regard RMS and FSF views as too extreme, unrealistic and ultimately unfriendly when they see/read/hear them speaking (like in that last interview where RMS seems pretty blunt about it). However, when looking at this new license draft I see a testament to the opposite. If they were so extreme as people sometimes like to paint them then I don't think they would be going for greater compatibility between GPL and other licenses as they do. That's something one who thinks of them as zealoted extremists would expect from them.

But the reality shown through their actions in this particular case of drafting a new version GPL show something very different from extremism. It shows that they aim to something else, to simply do the *right thing*.


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