GPL 3.0 - Why it matters for your business Part 1

Businesses are adopting open source software in growing numbers, making it a popular alternative to the traditional commercial closed model. However, the General Purpose License version 3.0, which is set to regulate the majority of open source applications out there, will send shockwaves across the open source sector if left as it is. Mark Tolliver, CEO of Palamida, an IP management and compliance technology provider, has been closely following the draft and has agreed to answer 5 questions on GPL 3.0 and open source in general. These will be published as five separate blog posts, starting today...

1. What are the fundamental differences between GPL 2.0 and GPL 3.0?

Well the short answer is: the inclusion of requirements around digital rights management (DRM), and changes to the patent provisions, both to limit the triggering of a patent license in some cases, and to prevent arrangements in which patent rights go only to customers of distributors as was the case with the Microsoft-Novell deal. Our longer response is to answer with another question: “Did the FSF get the GPL license right in 1991, with v2.0?” In our opinion the answer is basically “yes.” When you think about all the issues that were candidates to be included in the new license at the beginning of the v3.0 debate, the community has either backed off from those or softened the initial stance. These issues include:

· The fact that they have backed off from closing the “hosted service provider loophole” (i.e., Google and salesforce.com do not have comply with the reciprocal parts of the license because they don’t distribute their software). They allow for an optional opt-in by referencing compatibility with the Affero General Public License

. They have softened their stance on DRM issues after much debate, much of it fueled by Linus Torvalds and his being extremely uncomfortable with the license stating that there should never be any DRM code in any GPL’d project

. They have softened their stance on encryption, with the current draft now only stipulating encryption keys for consumer devices

. They have softened their stance on the patent protection clause, with the license now only saying that the patent clause only applies to modified works (but does not apply if you merely redistribute without modification)

So have the changes been worth all the trouble? It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Read part 2 of the interview here.