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GPLv3 responds to Microsoft-Novell deal

By   |  March 28, 2007

This afternoon the third draft of the GNU General Public Licence version 3 (GPLv3) was released. This improved draft of the GPLv3 aims to better protect the open source community. Accompanying this delayed draft is a 60-page rationale for the draft (PDF) featuring a large section responding to the Microsoft-Novell deal in November, which was a key factor in the draft’s much overdue release.

The introduction offers an apology and explanation for the draft’s delays, citing the Microsoft-Novell deal, which it said “presents grave threats to users of free software”.

“It was necessary for us to take the time to carefully develop mechanisms in GPLv3 that would deter agreements of this sort and would provide strong defenses latest draft adds extra protectionagainst their accompanying dangers. There were additional important and difficult issues of law and policy that we wished to resolve prior to publication of the new draft”

The rationale includes an extensive note on the Microsoft-Novell deal, identifying two new paragraphs (Section 11, paragraphs four and five) as the response to the sort of threat represented by the deal, which were designed to protect users from such deals, and prevent or deter the making of such deals.

The first key paragraph aims at restoring effective defences to the targets of patent aggression in instances where discriminatory patent promises may leave certain users outside of the agreement vulnerable. The other key new paragraph prevents free software vendors from contracting with patent holders to make discriminatory patent promises in the first place.

Both of these sections are likely to be very closely scrutinised and amended, with an open invitation to all interested people to offer constructive comment on the GPLv3 wiki.

In a change to the drafting process, the third discussion draft will be open for comment for at least sixty days. Based on feedback during this process, amendments may be made, which will be announced on the GPLv3 web site and mailing list. After that discussion process, a final draft will be published which will be open for comment for thirty days. The final license will be published shortly afterwards.

To view the markup of changes made to the changes since the second draft, go here (PDF).

For the guide to the draft, go here.


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