General Public License 3.0: A draft too far?

"Aggressive" is the word, or rather adjective, that struck IT commentators as the world got news of the latest version of the world’s most popular open source license, General Public License (GPL) 3.0.

This piece of legalese is an essential part of thousands of open source software that is released to the public domain and, therefore, what is written inside can have a profound impact on the rest of the IT industry.

GPL 3.0 has been described by analysts as being highly aggressive towards the digital right management (DRM) movement. The writers of the GPL 3.0 license argue that open source is fundamentally incompatible with DRM limitations set by the entertainment industry, which hurts the consumer rather than assisting them.

Whether this will be a workable license remains to be seen as some hardware manufacturers, like TiVO, have started using open source software in conjunction with DRM. Also, the forthcoming ViiV and Live! platforms, proposed by Intel and AMD respectively, will be built as DRM compatible systems.

At the end of the day, you can bet a bucket load of crisp pound notes that some will use Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) to cast a dark cloud over the open source movement.

Hardware makers (because they will be sandwiched between the hammer and the anvil) and end users (because they will end up with less choice) are the most likely losers.

GPL 3.0 has been updated for the first time since 1991 and while it is still a draft, it may be one too far.