The FSF announced today the release of the initial discussion draft of the 3rd version of the GNU General Public License (GPLv3). The draft is available online at a GPLv3 web site established by the FSF. The FSF plans a remarkably open comment and drafting process for vetting and iterating GPLv3 before a final draft is released.
The FSF press release is included below. Let the games begin!
On January 16th, the leaders of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen, welcomed over 300 people in an auditorium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to the first in a series of international conferences dedicated to producing the next version of the GNU General Public License.
As a subscriber to this mailing list, you received a copy of the new license draft simultaneous with its release at the conference—but if you weren’t also in the room, you missed Professor Moglen’s detailed walk-through of the new text, and Richard Stallman’s description of the threats faced by the free software community to which the new license must respond.
You can now download the video of the opening presentation at <http://gplv3.fsf.org/av/gplv3-draft1-release.ogg.torrent>.
Since then, comments on the license draft have been welcomed at <http://gplv3.fsf.org/comment>, but the commenting process actually began during the remainder of the two-day conference during a series of panels exploring the specific issues raised by Moglen and Stallman and inviting dialogue with the audience.
The two most thought-provoking panels were the the panel on Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), and the panel on internationalization.
The DRM panel included FSF’s David Turner, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Staff Technologist and DRM expert Seth Schoen, and the Wikimedia Foundation’s Legal Officer Jean-Baptiste Soufron. They detailed the threats posed by Treacherous Computing (often misleadingly called Trusted Computing) and discussed with the audience ways that the new GPL will deal with them.
The related license provisions have been highlighted in the news recently as a result of concerns expressed by the Linux developers. Stallman has responded to these concerns:
GPLv3 would not require Linux developers to publish the private
keys that they use to sign Linux source versions to show they are
authentic. But GPLv3 would require the manufacturer of the Tivo
you bought to give you the key needed to sign a binary so it will
run on your Tivo. That means you will really be able to run the
modified versions on your Tivo and they will really run.
The Tivo was the first well-known case of a machine that included
free software but refused to run the users’ modified versions, but
it surely won’t be the last. It happens that Linux is one of the
programs that were tivoized in this way.
We hope that the developers of Linux will adopt the GPLv3, so as
to make future Linux versions resistant to tivoization in the
Identifying any unintended consequences of the new GPL is a vital part of the update process, and the FSF welcomes everyone to comment on the license.
Since the GPL seeks to provide protection for free software worldwide, the panel discussion hosted by a group of free software luminaries from around the world, including Juan Carlos Gentile (Hipatia); Enrique Chaparro (FSF Latin America); Stefano Mafulli (FSF Europe); and Niibe Yutaka (Free Software Initiative of Japan), was another essential component. They focused on key differences between languages and jurisdictions that will need to be considered, and on the need to translate not only the license itself but also the documents surrounding the drafting process.
More conferences are planned for the future, and we will be sure to let you know the dates as they become available. Please support the continuation of this process by making a donation at <https://www.fsf.org/donate>, or by becoming an FSF associate member at <http://member.fsf.org>. As a benefit, you will then be able to attend our annual membership meeting on April 1st in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
At the conference, in addition to the license, we also released a new t-shirt and hoodie featuring the GPLv3 logo. You can show your support by ordering them at <http://www.gnu.org/gear/gplv3-tshirt.html>.
John Sullivan, FSF
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