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Perens Counters Claim of GPL Legal Risk 145

Posted by Zonk
from the not-so-fast-my-friend dept.
Microsoft Delenda Est writes "After ACT, a Microsoft front group, started claiming that the GPLv3 was legally 'risky' and could give rise to anti-trust liability, eWeek has published a rebuttal by Bruce Perens. Aside from the fact that IBM, HP, Red Hat, and a couple dozen corporate lawyers are watching over the creation of the GPLv3, there is already precedent that shows the GPL is unlikely to give rise to any significant liability — Daniel Wallace v. FSF. In that case, pro se litigant Daniel Wallace was all but laughed out of the courtroom for alleging the GPLv2 violates anti-trust law, and the GPLv3 clauses in question are simply clarifications and extensions of clauses in the GPLv2. Presumably, that is why the ACT neglected to cite any precedent substantiating their allegations."
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Perens Counters Claim of GPL Legal Risk

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  • Re:Why tagged Linux? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:08PM (#18677989) Homepage Journal
    As has been reported here previously, Linus is actually pleased with GPL3 draft 3, and will at least consider placing the kernel under GPL3. He really did not like previous drafts. But even if the kernel stays at GPL2, the C library, the main library in a Linux-based distribution, would go to LGPL3, it's copyright is owned by FSF in full. So are GCC, Emacs, a number of other programs. And no doubt other projects will go to GPL3.

    Bruce

  • Re:Why tagged Linux? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:36PM (#18678525)

    Well, if you call it GNU/Linux the way RMS wants

    Wrong. He wants you to call Linux "Linux", to call GNU "GNU", and to call the combination of the two "GNU/Linux".
  • by g2devi (898503) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:39PM (#18678589)
    Besides the other reasons stated (the N-M deal, the GPL depends on US-specific concepts), the GPL v2 is incompatible with more free software licenses than it needs to be and this leads to some license fragmentation.

    The GPL v3 attempts to fix this problem by adding a "permissions clause" which allows the original license owner to add other permissions (e.g. the LGPL is now the GPL plus some permissions) and by adjusting the license to be more compatible with the free software norm (e.g. the Apache license is now almost compatible with the GPL v3. The patent clauses are now compatible, unfortunately the Apache indemnity clause was a bit too strong for the GPL community to swallow. ).

    This "permissions clause" makes it easy for the average user to understand how different flavours of the GPLv3 can combine -- just drop incompatible permissions and end up with the common subset (which would be no less restrictive than the GPL v3).

    This could allow you to define the CPL, PHP license, Mozilla license, etc as GPL + some permissions and either get rid of the original license or publish "equivalent GPL+permissions versions" of these licenses along side the orignal (simpler) license so as to make it obvious how you can combine code from your license with other licenses.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:41PM (#18678629) Homepage Journal
    my computer doesn't parse licenses, it works just fine without one

    Then, you are not running any recent Mac or Windows system. Your computer probably depends on the work of people who would not have released their code at all without the GPL. Like the GCC developers, for example, whose work started with Richard Stallman's first implementation. GCC is most likely used to compile the system you are running.

    Richard Stallman agrees with you. He doesn't restrict your right to use the software. It is copyright law that restricts your right to distribute other people's software, to modify it, etc. Richard would rather that there were no copyright law. Since there is, he uses the GPL to turn copyright law upon its head as well as he can.

    Bruce

  • Re:Why tagged Linux? (Score:3, Informative)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @02:04PM (#18679037) Homepage Journal

    You'll be surprised how significant a fork over a license change can be [xfree86.org].

    That said, I seriously doubt there will be much traction in GPLv2 forks, as most of the people who appear to oppose GPLv3 either have little respect behind the principles of GPLv2 (and argue as such), or oppose the GPL altogether (I am really not seeing heavy opposition from any group that believes in strong copyleft licenses, using arguments that are based upon the superiority of strong, copyleft, licenses.) Neither of the groups I mentioned has much incentive to hijack development of GPL'd projects to keep them on GPLv2.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @02:07PM (#18679097) Homepage Journal
    Thank you. You might find this one [technocrat.net] useful as well. I wrote it just before GPL3 version 3 came out, the conclusions are unchanged upon reading the third draft. The scope of GPL3's tivo-ization restrictions has been reduced somewhat, but my advice on how a company could handle DRM still applies.

    Bruce

  • by Khopesh (112447) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @02:43PM (#18679683) Homepage Journal

    RMS feels that this is your right, and has only provided a way for people to optionally apply the Afero GPL, which does prevent this, to GPL3 code.
    Affero GPL [wikipedia.org] is the correct spelling.

    I had to stop using scroogle's search scraper and go to google directly to get the spelling correction. I am sure there are others with this problem.

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