Feeds

Critics swarm new GPL draft

How free is free under GPLv3?

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has been accused of working to prevent co-operation between the free and proprietary software sectors, thanks to new terms in the latest draft version of the GNU GPL.

Unsurprisingly, the speediest criticism came from Microsoft, whose deal with Novell prompted the inclusion of the controversial clauses in the first place.

Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's vice president of intellectual property and licensing, told eWeek: "We note that the draft of the GPLv3 does not tear down the bridge Microsoft and Novell have built for their customers. It is unfortunate, however, that the FSF is attempting to use the GPLv3 to prevent future collaboration among industry leaders to benefit customers."

Microsoft holds that Linux infringes several of its patents and late last year signed a deal with Novell, under which Novell's customers were indemnified against legal action by Microsoft. Novell was roundly criticised at the time: the Open Source sector felt that the deal was a tacit admission that Linux does infringe Redmond's IP, something Novell has strenuously denied.

Many also felt the deal ran counter to the spirit of the GPL, even if it was technically compliant. Jeremy Allison, now ex-head of Novell's Samba team, resigned in protest. He said in a memo: "We can pledge patents all we wish, we can talk to the press and 'community leaders', we can do all the right things w.r.t. all our other interactions, but we will still be known as GPL violators and that's the end of it."

Novell maintains that the agreement did comply with the terms of the GPL, specifically the requirement that all recipients of the code should be treated equally, since there was no agreement between Novell and Microsoft, just between Microsoft and Novell's customers.

The new draft specifically prohibits deals like the one done by Microsoft and Novell from now on.

Morgan Reed, executive director of The Association for Competitive Technology said the new terms mean the GPL "no longer just defines freedom; it is designed to punish companies and business models that Richard Stallman just doesn't like".

The FSF's Richard Stallman believes the foundation had to do something. He argues that there are four "defining freedoms" to free software: the freedom to run the program as you see fit, study and adapt it for your own purposes, redistribute copies to help your neighbour, and release your improvements to the public.

"The recent patent agreement between Microsoft and Novell aims to undermine these freedoms. In this draft, we have worked hard to prevent such deals from making a mockery of free software," he said.

The second draft of GPLv.3 is just that, a draft. There is a 60 day period during which suggestions can be submitted. You can comment on the draft here. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
ONE MILLION people already running Windows 10
A third of them are doing it in VMs, but early feedback focuses on frippery
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'
Admits to 'a metric ****load' of mistakes during work with Linux collaborators
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Do Moan! MONSTER 6-day EMAIL OUTAGE hits Domain Monster
Customers freaked out by frightful service
Ploppr: The #VultureTRENDING App of the Now
This organic crowd sourced viro- social fertiliser just got REAL
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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.
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?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.