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GNU General Public License Version 3 Proposal Up for Discussion and Scrutiny

GPL's First Major Revision Since 1991 Promises to be More Commercial-Friendly

The first draft of the revised GNU General Public License has been released for comment. The project will bring together organizations, software developers, and software users from around the globe during 2006, in an effort to update the world's most popular free software license.

Richard M. Stallman (pictured),  who founded the free software movement and who was the author of the GNU GPL, released version 2 in 1991 after taking legal advice and collecting developer's opinions concerning version 1 of the license, which had been in use since 1989 says, “the biggest change we’ve made is in license compatibility, partly removing an obstacle that has prevented combining code of various free software licenses.”

In a statement on The Free Software Foundation’s website, JohnS states, “The success of the GPL is due to its fundamental design principle: the protection of users' freedom to work individually or together to make software do what they wish. To carry the GPL into the future, we have undertaken to adapt the license to uphold this principle through the opportunities and menaces of today's technological and legal environment. The core legal mechanism of the GNU GPL is that of copy left, which requires modified versions of GPL'd software to be GPL'd themselves. Copyleft is essential for preventing the enclosure of the free software commons, today as it was in 1991. But today's environment is more complex and diverse; thus, a fully effective copyleft calls for additional legal measures. Devising these measures is complicated by another aspect of our success: the worldwide adoption of free software principles. We hope and expect that contributors to GPLv3 will come from all over the globe, and from every developer, distributor, and user constituency.”

The GNU GPL is the most widely used Free Software license worldwide: Almost three quarters of all Free Software programs (also known as Free and Open Source Software, or FOSS) are distributed under this license.

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linuxworld news desk 01/22/06 11:34:45 PM EST

The first draft of the revised GNU General Public License has been released for comment. The project will bring together organizations, software developers, and software users from around the globe during 2006, in an effort to update the world's most popular free software license.