Feeds

Open sourcerers do battle for GPLv3

Perens weighs in

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

Open source luminary Bruce Perens has come out fighting in defence of the latest draft of GPLv3.

The draft, which seeks to prevent patent protection deals like that struck late last year by Microsoft and Novell, has come under heavy fire from proprietary software advocates such as the ACT (Association for Competitive Technology).

ACT lawyers argue that GPLv3 might "create new liabilities for its drafters and users".

In a document drafted by Richard Wilder, an attorney at Sidley Austin and the intellectual property counsel for ACT, the association warns that the anti-MS/Novell clause could constitute tortious interference.

Perens disagrees: it is up to developers to chose to use GPLv3, or not, he says. No one is being forced to use it, so the warnings of potential tortious interference hold no water with him.

He told eWeek that ACT is a lobbying front for Microsoft: "Obviously, GPL software is displacing Microsoft enough to have them concerned, and it's doing it at customers who are important to them. A lawyer's job is to scare the other side if they can—because they know it's cheaper than winning a case in court."

Mountains and molehills

Mark Taylor, a former head of the Open Source Consortium in the UK, thinks the whole thing is being blown out of all proportion.

He told us: "The only people worrying about the GPL draft are people like ACT. Everyone else is really pleased with the draft. The original GPL aimed to prevent deals like the one between Novell and Microsoft. They just found a loophole. This draft closes it."

Taylor also believes that the test of the success of the draft will be in whether or not developers chose to use it. But he also notes that the draft is just that: a draft. The implication is that any issues that it might have will be hammered out of it by the free software community. After all, debugging complicated documents is what they do best.

But Wilder also suggests that the real aim of the Free Software Foundation is to stop links being built between the free and proprietary software worlds. Certainly, readers have suggested to The Register that the changes put in place to prevent new deals similar to the one between MS and Novell could undermine the open source movement by making it harder for those two groups to collaborate.

According to Wilder, the limitations imposed in GPLv3 are too strict, seeking to prevent deals between those patent holders "in the business of distributing software", while leaving the door open for similar deals by other parties.

Perens dismisses such concerns. He told eWeek: "It is now, and always has been, legal to make proprietary software that runs on a GNU/Linux system. Oracle does it with no problem, for example. That's not a bridge between the proprietary and open-source world? Why is that legal? Because the FSF made it so."

"What we really are hearing here is a representative for the world's biggest closed software company trying to make a case that the Free Software Foundation isn't open enough for them, when of course Microsoft does not give people anything close to the rights that FSF grants on every bit of software that they own." ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.