The tech media (and certain savvy others) is abuzz with the release of the guidelines for the upcoming GPL revision which will bring in v3.0 of the licence. ZDNet is all over it, as is eWeek, The Reg, TechNewsWorld and Corante.
This is from India’s Financial Express, in a pleasingly detailed overview at the history of FLOSS:
The rules governing the use of most free software programs will be revised for the first time in 15 years, in an open process that began last week.
Free software, once regarded as a tiny counterculture in computing, has become a mainstream technology in recent years, led by the rising popularity of programs like the GNU Linux operating system.
The [revision] process will also be closely watched for how the new GPL will take account of software patents, which have exploded among commercial software developers since 1991, the last time the GPL was revised.
The revision process promises to be intriguing because of the man behind the GPL, Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation.
The GPL, according to Stallman, is an effort to use copyright law to protect what he calls the “four basic freedoms of software” — the unrestricted right to use, study, copy and modify software. The license also requires that any modifications be redistributed with the same unrestricted rights.
Stallman is renowned as both a brilliant computer programmer and a person of emphatic views on matters of software. At the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT in the 1980s, Stallman began writing a free version of the proprietary Unix operating system, which he called GNU, and he distributed his work free.
Australia’s The Age has more details on the aims of the revision, including the creation of a global licence that isn’t simply a construct of the US legal system.