Feeds

Revised open source GPL expected spring 2007

Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Plans to update the General Public Licence (GPL), which underpins the distribution of most open source software, were released by the Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center yesterday.

The first discussion draft of the new license – known as GPLv3 – will be released at a public conference, due to be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on 16th and 17th January.

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) will then coordinate a structured process of eliciting feedback from the community, with the goal of producing a final licence that best defends freedom and serves community and business. The process will include public discussion, identification of issues, considerations of those issues, and the publication of responses.

Publication of the second discussion draft is expected by summer 2006 and a last call, or final discussion draft, will be produced in the autumn of 2006. The final licence is expected no later than spring 2007.

Free software community projects, Global 2000 companies and individual developers, as well as non-governmental organisations, government agencies, small businesses and individual users will be invited to participate in the revising process of GPLv3.

Individual comments will be reviewed and addressed primarily through committees to be set up at the MIT conference. Additionally, individual comments can be submitted on the GPL website or during one of the many public meetings being held internationally.

"The guiding principle for developing the GPL is to defend the freedom of all users," said Richard Stallman, founder of the FSF, a US non-profit group dedicated to the promotion of free software.

"As we address the issues raised by the community, we will do so in terms of the four basic freedoms software users are entitled to – to study, copy, modify and redistribute the software they use,” he said. “GPLv3 will be designed to protect those freedoms under current technical and social conditions and will address new forms of use and current global requirements for commercial and non-commercial users."

Background

The GPL is a licence commonly used for many free software projects, including the Linux operating system kernel. The GPL licences software free of cost but requires any re-distributor to provide the full source code and a copy of the full licence text.

It was written by Stallman, who also founded the GNU Project – which developed a free UNIX-like operating system called GNU. Stallman's site explains that GNU, pronounced "guh-noo," is a recursive acronym for "GNU's Not Unix."

Variants of the GNU operating system which use the Linux kernel are now widely used. These systems are usually referred to as Linux systems; but Stallman points out that they are more accurately called GNU/Linux systems.

The current version of the GPL is now 15 years old and, while it has become central to the activities and operation of a large number of companies and governments around the world, it needs updating.

The FSF has therefore started a project to bring together organisations, software developers and software users from around the world, over the course of 2006, to update the licence in as consensual a way as possible.

The process will be overseen by the FSF, supported by its legal counsel, the Software Freedom Law Centre. European activities will be coordinated by the FSFE.

Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Related links

The GPLv3 website
Details of the review process

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.