[lug] Bruce Perens's open letter to Novell

D. Stimits stimits at comcast.net
Sat Nov 25 13:12:42 MST 2006


>Eben Moglen (the FSF's lawyer) is saying they're not going to sue (probably
>because they don't have the resources, and possibly because he has concluded
>they would lose), but instead will focus on making sure deals like this will
>not be possible under GPL v3.  On a personal note, I was on the fence about
>whether to use "GPL v2" or "GPL v2 or later" for a large project I'm about to
>release, but this has resolved that conflict.  I trust the FSF enough that
>it's worth losing a little future control to prevent this sort of scummy
>behavior from being rewarded.
Keep in mind that even if you use GPL of an exact version for your 
software publishing, then you still own the software. This in turn means 
you can dual-license it, or use as many licenses at once which you 
choose to use. If for your own software you use v3 or v2, and decide you 
wanted the other, you can always go back and add the one you did not 
use. You can't revoke what you granted, but when you say "or later" you 
are automatically granting the terms of any of those versions. So if you 
say "or later", you're only losing control over someone making the 
license less strict, that it will never become more strict because of 
future versions.

The interesting part is that when a third party decides which license to 
use, that choice can't be a mix of terms from different versions...it's 
quite possible that the next version offers more rights in some way, 
while removing another right; they can't use the new rights unless they 
give up the old rights under that situation. This gets to be very 
interesting where content protection keys are concerned, as this is a 
big part of the stipulations of the v3 license. But if you used "v2 or 
later", then you can still use v2 and not give up content protection 
keys (which means that you'd only have to do so if v3 offered something 
in return, or if the software was published later and used v3 or later, 
rather than v2 or later). I have to wonder if v3 offers anything to 
non-owner vendors and end users which would be an advantage over 
v2...otherwise there's a good chance that anything "v2 or later" (lots 
of v2 or later stuff out there now) would be distributed ignoring the 
new restrictions (such as keeping content protection keys) and not care 
one bit how v3 changes things.

D. Stimits, stimits AT comcast DOT net

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