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Black Duck floats GPL 3 safety line

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Black Duck software today announces the latest edition of its license sniffing software, primed and ready for General Public License Version 3.0.

The company next month launches protexIP 4.3, updating its interface and underlying knowledge base to help developers find and compare code in products they are building, which is licensed under the new and old GPL licenses. The goal is to help developers stay on the right side of law, avoiding run ins with lawyers and open source software authors down the line.

GPL 3 is currently working its way through its third and final draft. With up to 70 per cent of open source software licensed under GPL, Black Duck expects a confusing patchwork of licensing Ts & Cs for developers navigate when GPL 3 hits the streets.

Widescale adoption of GPL 3 is likely to go ahead despite early opposition from Linux founder Linus Torvalds. He criticized provisions that would prohibit use of GPLed software with digital rights management (DRM) technology. This has huge implications for everyone, from individual developers trying simply to protect their day's works right up to ISVs serving entertainment, for example, using open source code with protected media content.

According to Black Duck chief executive Doug Leven Linus is "very influential, but developers in general and the open source community especially are independent decision makers... there will be adopters of GPL 3 irrespective of Linus' opinions," he said.

Unless altered, the DRM provision will be one of GPL 3's biggest "structural incompatibilities" with GPL 2, according to Leven. Another potential problem are the proposed patent determination provisions. "We don't yet know if this will be in the final version... [but] GPL 2 doesn't mention either," he said.®

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