“Last Call” Draft of GPL3 is Posted

By John Ottaviani

The Free Software Foundation posted the “last call” draft of version 3 of the GPL on its website yesterday for comment.

The General Public License (GPL) is one of the most widely used open source licenses. Version 1 was released in 1981, and Version 2 in 1991.

I have not had time to review the new draft yet. According to FSF’s press release, changes in this draft from the third discussion draft adress the following issues:

—GPLv3 is now compatible with version 2.0 of the Apache License.

—Distributors who make discriminatory patent deals after March 28 may not convey software under GPLv3. Apparently, Novell is not prohibited from distributing software under GPLv3 because the patent protection they arranged with Microsoft last November can be turned against Microsoft to the community’s benefit.

—Terms have been added clarifying how one can contract for private modification of free software, or for a data center to run it.

—A reference to a US consumer protection statute has been replaced by explicit criteria, for greater clarity outside the US.

There is a 29 day comment period for this draft. The final GPL v3 will then be approved by FSF’s board of directors on or about June 29, 2007.