LINUS CALLS GPLv3 "A FINE CHOICE" – is a title that InformationWeek could have used for their article. It would have been very selective quoting, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for InformationWeek. Nor does pretending that old emails are new emails, or misrepresenting people.
In reality, there is no news. Their article contains nothing at all that is new since GPLv3′s June 29th release. I thought this clarification was worthwhile because Slashdot has now featured that article, and from looking at the comments, it seems that most readers have been fooled into thinking this is some new statement from Linus.
The article starts with "Free Software Foundation last month published a revised version of the General Public License" – framing the article as post-GPLv3 news. It then proceeds to present quotes from Linus, without mentioning that they’re from a June 20th email – that’s not just old, it’s from before GPLv3 was even published.
At the very end of the article, the June 20th date is mentioned in relation to one quote – but only that one quote. It’s not mentioned that the whole story has just been a creative rehash of that one old email.
Of course, InformationWeek don’t give readers a link to Linus’s actual email. Besides being able to see that date that the quotes were taken from, readers could have seen that Linus’s "fanatics and totalitarian states" comment was part of a general comment in a meandering discussion. It was not, contrary to the introduction of InformationWeek’s article, part of a description of the "executives of Free Software Foundation … mind-set".
I wonder how long it took them to decide not to quote this bit of the email: "I don’t think it’s hypocritical to prefer the GPLv3. That’s a fine choice, it’s just not *mine*." If they have some objection to publishing balanced statements, they could have just left out the last four words.
We’ve see some real low quality journalism during the GPLv3 drafting process. Dan Lyons’s stories in Forbes (which Slashdot also featured) defined the low point. The author of this InformationWeek article, Paul McDougall, hasn’t managed to stoop down to Lyons’s level, but he gets my nomination for 2nd place.
Linus’s position is clear. He’s repeatedly said that he’d use GPLv3 in certain situations if there was a practical advantage, but he prefers v2 over v3. That’s fine. I prefer v3, but v2 is still a great licence.
In related news, I just checked Groklaw and saw that PJ’s latest story is about a different InformationWeek story which she finds misleading, on the topic of SCO, patents, and yet another claim about the end of free software.
UPDATE: InformationWeek have posted a response to the criticisms of their article. I have a response to that second article here: InformationWeek opens it’s mouth to change feet.