Another Industry Attorney on GNU GPL v3

Lora Bentley

Mark Radcliffe, an intellectual property attorney and a partner at DLA Piper, also serves as outside counsel to the Open Source Initiative on a pro bono basis. Tuesday, he was a guest blogger for InfoWorld, where he discussed the key changes in the GNU General Public License v3 from the previous draft to the latest.


Among the changes, GPL v3 draft three takes a different approach to filling in the so-called "ASP loophole" than GPL v3 draft two did. And it's an approach that should assuage most of the concerns raised by corporate users.


Also, the new draft contains patent provisions that prevent future Microsoft/Novell-like agreements in two ways -- one from the distributor side (Novell) and one from the third-party side (Microsoft). As Radcliffe puts it:

For... distributors of works under the GPLv3, the provision would permit termination of the GPLv3 if such distributors enter into certain arrangements with third parties in which such third parties provide patent licenses only to the customers of such distributors...


For... third parties, the provision would require that the patent license extend to all recipients of the licensed FOSS software.

Yesterday, he spoke to IT Business Edge to further explain draft three's approach to the Microsoft/Novell deal, as well as why the deal created such "angst" in the first place. You can find the entire interview here.


What struck us the most about talking to Radcliffe was not the information he conveyed -- though it is certainly valuable. Rather, it was the deliberate way in which he gave the Free Software Foundation props for paying close attention to the objections raised to the second draft of GPL v3 and then working hard to address them -- even when it meant making decisions that weren't necessarily popular. In the end, Radcliffe said, a much better license resulted.

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