Public Debate Begins on GPLv3

Public debate on the third revision of the General Public License began on Monday as the Free Software Foundation released the first draft of the popular open source license.

The new version of the license focuses on patents and digital rights management issues that have come to the forefront since the GPL was last updated nearly a decade and a half ago.

Specifically, the new revision would deal with digital rights management so that the spirit of the GPL is not compromised. Also, the GPL will ban a company from using software under the license if it sues another GPL developer for patent infringement violations.

Additonal provisions have been added to prevent certain types of terms, especially those dealing with patent infringement, within the agreements of GPL-governed software.

Previous revisions of the GPL were done quietly and without much public input. However, the license has recently become a significant part of the software industry. Software under the license is now widely used, thus the FSF and its founder Richard Stallman have opened up the revision to the general public.

The GPL will be the primary topic of a conference at MIT to take place this week. Discussions there are intended to help contribute to a second draft that is due out in June.

If needed, a third draft would be released in October. The FSF is targeting January 2007 as the date for the completion of GPLv3; although, it acknowledged that it may need an extra two months to completely finish the project.

Those interested in the revision can view the draft at the FSF Web site.

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