For Approval: GPLv3
chris at metatrontech.com
Sat Aug 25 23:01:02 UTC 2007
One other thing we should consider before approving the GPL v3.
Due to license proliferation concerns, a number of criteria were
reviewed and approved by OSI. The report can be found at
My reading is that we can (and maybe should) reject the GPL v3 on
grounds related to license proliferation. My view is that the GPL v3
cuts across both the general concerns of license proliferation and the
recommendations of the committee. The major concerns of the report are:
a) *too many different licenses makes it difficult for licensors to choose
The GPL3 is sufficently different in stated intent and execution from
the GPL v2 to consider it to be a different license. These licenses are
not compatible with eachother, and are substantively different.
b) *some licenses do not play well together*
*The GPL v3 may be incompatible with every other license out there
(including itself, meaning that 2 GPL3 works may be license-incompatible
depending on additional permissions depending on how you read the license).*
c)*too many licenses makes it difficult to understand what you are
agreeing to in a multi-license distribution*
The GPL v3 adds complexity here beyond even any other license approved
to date due to (vague) corresponding source definitions, the question of
when additional permissions/licenses may be removed and by whom, and
when the conditions of the GPLv3 require relicensing of source code.
These uncertainties make this an especially dangerous license in this area.
The first paragraph of section 2 of the report states:
'The first thing we can do is to make sure that licenses calling
themselves "open source" truly meet the Open Source Definition. In 2005,
the OSI has suggested three guidelines that they would apply to proposed
licenses to determine whether they should be OSI-approved.
1. The license must not be duplicative
2. The license must be clearly written, simple, and understandable
3. The license must be reusable'
While these are merely suggested guidelines, it is clear to *anyone*
that the GPL fails exactly one of these conditions (number 2).
One of the concerns we should have about approving the GPL v3 is that it
may make it impossible to implement the 2005 recommendations ever, if
the GPL v3 becomes the minimal standard of simplicity. If we are going
to draw the line anywhere, this is clearly over it. If we are not, then
we shouldn't consider license proliferation or its harm in approving any
other licenses at the moment.
A second concern is that many projects may be uncomfortable with the
GPL3 may wish to continue promoting the GPL2. It therefore is likely to
be problematic to move the GPL2 into the "superceded" category.
Therefore, even if OSD section 9 grounds are not sufficient cause for
rejection, we should consider rejecting on the basis that this is a
license which tries to be redundant with the GPLv2, but is indeed
different, overly complicated, hard to understand, and poses unusual
problems for multi-license distribution environments (which again, is
limited to my section 9 concern).
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