A First Look at General Public License 3.0
Computer and Internet Lawyer, Vol. 24, p. 15, 2007
7 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2008
Date Written: November 1, 2007
Richard Stallman created the initial version of the GNU General Public License (GPL) as a license that could be used by any software project to preserve the freedoms that he believes are fundamental to software users. Stallman released version 2 of the GPL (GPL 2.0) in 1991. The GPL remained unchanged for 15 years although many flaws in the license were apparent.
In 2006 the Free Software Foundation (FSF) launched a campaign to update GPL 2.0. The GPL 3.0 process produced four discussion drafts including a "last call" draft on May 31, 2007. At the time of the "last call" draft Richard Stallman published an article titled "Why Upgrade to GPL Version 3." This Why Upgrade piece notes that "upgrading is a choice" and that "GPL version 2 will remain a valid license." However, GPL 2.0 and GPL 3.0 are "incompatible" because "there is no legal way to combine code under GPLv2 with code under GPLv3 in a single program." According to Stallman, the reason to use GPL 3.0 is "because of the existing problems which GPLv3 will address." This article examines GPL 3.0 in depth, focusing on the key issues that Stallman points to such as dealing with Tivoization; DRM; patents; compatibility with the Apache license.
Keywords: general public license, open source, open source license, free software, free software license, license, software license
JEL Classification: K1, K2, K3, K4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation