FSF Releases GPLv3 Draft 2

The FSF announced today the release of the second discussion draft of version 3 of the GNU General Public License. The full text is available online.

In general, draft 2 adopts a more measured tone than the initial draft back in January. The FSF explains the changes as resulting from the openness of the GPLv3 drafting process — In the words of Eben Moglen, “Draft 1 was exclusively the work of the FSF. The second draft is reflective of broader opinion, of the FSF and thousands of other people around the world.”

In particular, draft 2 replaces the rather strict language around the issue of DRM. The section that in draft 1 referred to DRM has been rewritten to ensure that third parties can’t use technical means to limit users’ abilities to use or modify software covered by the GPL. In doing do, v3 does not forbid the implementation of DRM features, but instead prevents limitations being imposed on users in a way that they can’t remove.

Draft 2 also provides clarification on the patent the language in Draft 1 requiring large software distributors that own patents and cross-license patents with their peers to “shield downstream users” against any potential patent infringement claims. In Draft 2, these organizations must ensure an “effective low-cost way” to protect downstream users.

After receiving public comment, the FSF expects to release a “last-call” third draft of GPLv3 sometime between mid-October and Nov. 1.

From where I stand, this is a fairly optimistic time line as the language in Draft 2 is still raising a lot of eyebrows in the commercial open source world.


 

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