GPLv3: Official start of the revision process

MIT lecture room 10-250 in Boston just saw the release of the the first discussion draft for version 3 of the world’s first Copyleft and most used Free Software license, the GNU General Public License (GPL).

As expected, it contains provisions for additional compatibility with other Copyleft licenses, language against Digital Restriction Management (DRM), an explicit software patent license grant, a (very limited) software patent retaliation clause, and distributed/web services.

It also tries to address the issue of difference Copyright regimes by introducing "propagate" as a new term that is generally not used and not subject to different Copyright regimes, as "distribute" is.

If you are interested, you’ll find the GPLv3 discussion draft online and can leave comments and suggestions online.

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About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is CEO and President of the Board at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV for collaboration and communication, also available as Swiss hosted service Kolab Now. During his 20+ year career in Free and Open Source Software he has been author of the Brave GNU World, one of the most widely spread columns on the subject, founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and provided input to various governmental and inter-governmental organisations. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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4 Responses to GPLv3: Official start of the revision process

  1. florianhaas says:

    I don’t like it

    8.[4] Termination.

    You may not propagate, modify or sublicense the Program except as
    expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to
    propagate, modify or sublicense the Program is void, and any copyright
    holder may terminate your rights under this License at any time after
    having notified you of the violation by any reasonable means within 60
    days of any occurrence.

    This is definitely NOT good.

    Giving them 60 Days to comply is way too long.

    What keeps Companies from distributing a new version of the software after 59 days ? Under this condition, they could never be forced to open the code…

  2. greve says:

    Maybe this needs to be rephrased

    What this clause says is that companies have to come into compliance after being informed that they violate the GPL. Releasing another version in violation is not giving them more time: The 60 days are measured from the first time they are informed they are in violation of the GPL.

    The reason for this clause is to give companies an additional incentive to “come clean” immediately to minimise their risk of being brought to court later.

    Overall, I think the GPLv3 draft is a very solid piece of work, I’ll try to write a little more about this after the GPLv3 event here in Boston, which is where I’m typing this.

  3. florianhaas says:

    A copyright-violation is afaik per-version

    You don’t violate the copyright by illegaly copying software foo, but foo v. 1.1 .

    What stops a company from releasing a new version every 59 days ?

  4. greve says:

    Not too much of an issue

    I am not sure this is really the case, although it may be true when very major changes were made.

    Even if it were always true, it would not make much of a difference, though: If program X version 1.0 violates the GPL, releasing it again under violating terms 59 days later as version 1.1 will not resolve the violation committed in version 1.0, it would only add another violation on top of it. So there would be two violations the company could be sued for, not one.

    But the 60 days only matter when they get into compliance, in other words: they get immunity only after they started respecting the GPL!

    That said: This clause is likely to see some discussion and I expect to see very different opinions on it.

    Whether or not it will be in there ultimately is not clear to anyone. If you wish to make a formal remark about that clause, feel free to submit it at

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