Readers Sound off on Microsoft and GPL v3

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Yesterday, I wrote about the virtual discussion Linux creator Linus Torvalds and Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz are having about GPL v3. One of Schwartz's comments: "We love where [the Free Software Foundation's] GPL v3 is headed..."


Sun isn't the only company that likes the forthcoming open source license, apparently. According to analyst and IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle, Microsoft likes it, too. Enderle suggests that GPL v3 discourages interoperability -- a current focus for Microsoft -- and that customers looking for better interoperability will turn from GPL v3 programs and make their way back to Microsoft.


Judging from the comments following the post, however, his readers disagree. One reader, Andydread, points out that the legal department at his company has examined the GPL v3 and Microsoft's VL 2.0, and found the GPL v3 superior:

Our legal department has reviewed GPL 2, the latest GPL3 draft, and the new Microsoft VL 2.0 which would require us to setup and maintain a License Key server (basically a police server to police us) at our expense. They recommended the GPL over the new MSVL2.0. We are replacing 1500 of our 1800 desktops and are considering Ubuntu and are testing some new Dell Ubuntu PCs.

Another, identified only as "A Random CIO," engages Enderle in a thorough discussion of what the GPL does or does not allow where distribution, modification and copying are concerned. Here's a snippet:

I want to remind you that GPL is not a license to use a program. It is a copyright license; it licenses copying, redistribution, modification, and those rights under copyright. Copyright law does not govern the use of a program any more that it covers how you might read a book, regardless of what some hare-brained EULA's may claim. It does, however, cover the right to redistribute and the right to modify. Now, some hold that the mere act of running the program constitutes making a copy; to those I just say see what the GPL itself has to say on the subject.


If you[r] hypothetical user has no need to modify the code, then they should have no fear of the GPL, V2 or V3.