For Approval: GPLv3
chris at metatrontech.com
Thu Aug 16 20:44:03 UTC 2007
Just a quick summary here first:
I have withdrawn my objection to approval. I think we should approve
the GPL v3.
THere are corner cases that I think GPL-users (any version) should be
aware of but this is not OSI's job. Most of the rest of this email is
aimed at discussion of these topics already underway on this thread.
Furthermore, in cases of using GPL v3 code with voting machines there
are other mechanisms otuside the GPL whcih could be used by governments
to effectively prevent alteration of software from government certified
configurations (including source code changes) which would be outside
the scope of the GPL. Thus this is not even a de facto discrimination
against this field of endeavor.
Also, section 7b may provide a way out for those who have legal
requirements not to let modified software run on the hardware depending
on answers to the following questions:
1) Are legal notices restricted to the comments in the code?
2) Are legal notices restricted to communication to other people? Can
required legal notices be used to convey legal status information to
other components (for example, fcc license information for modifications)?
A few other disagreements are mentioned below.
Rick Moen wrote:
> I think there may be some confusion, here.
> Derivative work is a term of art in copyright law. GPLv cannot
> regulate the scope of copyright coverage (that being defined by law),
> and can only embody the licensor's conditions for third parties'
> creation and distribution of whatever the _law_ judges to be derivative
Agreed as far as you take it. "The law" is sort of difficult to define
(in fact borders on being entirely meaningless) though when there is no
consideration to where a given case may be tried. Can one even speak of
"the law" as singular in this case? IANAL though.
There is nothing that prevents the license from granting permissions
outside a narrower definition of the work as a whole or derived works
according to copyright law (and arguably the GPL v3's definition of what
parts are required to be source-accessible is narrower than it is in the
The key phrase under section 1 is:
" For example, Corresponding Source includes interface definition files
associated with source files for the work, and the source code for
shared libraries and dynamically linked subprograms that the work is
specifically designed to require, such as by intimate data communication
or control flow between those subprograms and other parts of the work."
One would well conclude by the above definition that optional
dependencies need not be a part of the corresponding source. As I say,
this is a step forward because it avoids questions like:
Can a plugin to a GPL application be distibuted if it links to a
new-BSD-licensed library which likely (but not necessarily) links to a
library with an incompatible license like OpenSSL. In short, the GPL v3
is far weaker in terms of copyleft than the GPL v2 but this does not
impact whether OSI should approve. In fact I would argue that the GPL
v3 poses *fewer* potential concerns than v2.
However, the GPL v3 is also incredibly vague and hard to understand in
terms of other exceptions (for example, which libraries exactly in a
Linux distribution are really parts of "major components?" This is not
really an issue before us though. Just something I would note for
people looking at using the GPL v3.
Since I have no doubt that a license which required that system
components directly or indirectly linked with the code be under
compatible licenses would probably meet the OSD, this really is not an
> Thus, if a proprietary blob is implemented with a driver in a fashion
> that's alleged to violate the copyright of the driver's (or OS's)
> copyright owners, then that is a judicable question of fact that in the
> USA would be settled using the conceptual test the 2nd Circuit developed
> in CAI v. Altai.
But that specific test only affects people in the second circuit. I
believe the 9th Circuit has a different one from the Gates Rubber
case). Potentially these tests could result in different opinions, in
which case the meaning of the GPL depends on who is making allegations
against whom, whether declaratory judgement is sought, etc. and it
becomes one big game. One issue I have with the GPL in general (again
not in the scope of whether or not to approve) is that there is no
possibility to control jurisdiction, so it is impossible for anyone to
know whether a specified activity will be a problem in terms of
copyright law or not (this is true even within the US, and is far worse
internationally). I think however that although the GPL v3 is weaker in
terms of copyleft, it does help to define some of the
jurisdiction-dependant cases so that this is not as much of an issue.
I would even argue that the proprietary blob issue you mention would be
almost certainly allowed by the GPL v3 (definition of corresponding
source does *not* include the proprietary blob provided it is
redistributable as a proprietary blob because it is an optional
dependency, and is not itself derivative), but almost certainly
justiceable under GPL v2 (IANAL though).
In short what I am saying about the GPL v3 is that some potential issues
with the GPL v2 have been solved (or replaced with other problems, such
as long, invariant sections of code that spit out legal notices as
compiler warnings under section 7b).
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