FSF moots patent retaliation clause for next GPL

Final say goes to Stallman, though

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The Free Software Foundation says it is mulling over plans to introduce some kind of patent retaliation clause into the next version of Richard Stallman's General Public Licence.

The clause would seek to restrict the distribution and use of free software to parties prepared to forgo patent infringement lawsuits against free software developers.

FSF Europe president, Georg Greve told us that while the FSF is considering some patent and DRM language for the next version of the GPL, "none of this is decided and that only the first draft will show what is really in there".

He was speaking to El Reg after an article on Reuters quoted him as saying that anyone who patented software would be prevented from using free software. Greve says this is not quite what he was getting at:

"The basic idea is that if someone uses software patents against a Free Software program under the GPL, he might lose the right to distribute that particular software, to use it for their products. We have no interest in restricting the way people can use and develop software."

He added that it is by no means certain that this clause, in any form, will make it into GPLv3. "It will be for Richard Stallman to work on these issues later this year," Greve concluded. ®

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