Thursday, March 29, 2007

FSF seems to listen

In response to criticism of the earlier drafts of GPLv3, on Wednesday the Free Software Foundation announced a third draft of the proposed GPLv3.

[Tux]Linus Torvalds, who hated the previous draft, seems to find this one much improved, particularly on the patent retaliation clause 7(b). While he seems unconvinced that it’s better than GPLv2, he’s now willing to consider migrating the Linux kernel over to v3.

Of course, more aggressively protecting free software users from software patents is one of the major goal of the GPLv3. FSF “licensing compliance engineer” Brett Smith notes that the latest draft was deliberately crafted to undercut the Microsoft-Novell deal and its controversial terms about patent indemnification.

The FSF claims is this is the penultimate draft — to be discussed for 60 days — followed by the final draft open for discussion for another 30 days. They really want this train to leave the station in 2007, whether or not everyone is on board.

Still, given the tendency of the FSF and its supporters to be ideologues (or “purists”) in opposition to the broader “open source” community, the willingness of the GPLv3 license developers to listen and respond to external criticisms is an encouraging sign.

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