More Fuss About GPL v3

Lora Bentley

The latest in the war of words over version 3 of the GNU General Public License includes a position paper by 10 Linux kernel developers and a media release from the Free Software Foundation aimed at correcting "inaccurate information" in the paper.


From coverage, we gather that the Linux kernel team sees no need for GPL v3. Version 2 has served the needs of the open source community well for a very long time, they say, and it has helped to drive the success of Linux to current heights. As such, they are more than a little reluctant to change it.


Specifically, they disagree with digital rights management provisions that impose restrictions on hardware manufacturers. It's not a software developer's place to tell a hardware manufacturer how its products should and should not be used, the argument goes.


The Free Software Foundation, on the other hand, points out that hardware makers shouldn't reap the benefits of GPL'ed software without passing those benefits on to their users. The users should have the same freedom to use and modifiy the software as the manufacturer does.


As we see it, the sticking points haven't really changed since the discussion process began, and neither have the arguments. Encouraging one side to listen to the other -- as ZDNet Asia reports Eben Moglen did in a recent blog post -- obviously isn't enough.


One or both sides need to decide whether and how much they are willing to compromise. If they're not, they should agree to disagree and then work out how the two licenses will coexist. Continued grandstanding won't get anyone anywhere.

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