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Re: RFH: GPLv3

On Jul 13, 2007, Michael Eager <> wrote:

> Upgrade the license of every project implied that this would be
> effective for future releases, not retroactive.

Just to be clear, the FSF can't and won't withdraw the GPLv2, or
revoke any licenses granted through earlier releases.  Any software
ever released under GPLv2 remains available under GPLv2, and anyone
who receives such software copyrighted by the FSF receives from the
FSF a license for that software, and the license is GPLv2.

What's changing is that, from a certain point on, the FSF does not
intend to release new software under GPLv2+, but rather under GPLv3+.
There's no distinction between new major releases or old release
branches in this regard: they're all new software, otherwise there'd
be no real point in a new release, right?

Once release branches are upgraded to GPLv3+, then patches based on
it, being derived works and by the terms of the GPLv3+, must be under
GPLv3+ as well.  So, when you backport it to a tree that says GPLv2+,
the end result is GPLv3+.

> No one is suggesting that any defenses be weakened.  Only that source
> currently available under GPLv2 continue to be available under that
> license.

This can't and won't change.  Only new patches and releases can be
actually affected by the license upgrade.  Code ever released under
GPLv2+ will remain available under GPLv2+ forever.  It's just that, as
soon as you combine that with code under GPLv3+, the combination
becomes GPLv3+.

That's why the re-release of 4.2.1 under GPLv3+ I suggested the other
day is meaningless from a copyright standpoint (although IANAL), it
would just be signaling intent that further releases be under that
version of the license.

> Companies will not upgrade to GPLv3 until they have reviewed it.
> It was released ~2 weeks ago.  It's clearly been in a state of flux for
> many months, up until the release date.

Did you actually compare the final release with the last-call draft?
Maybe you should, and then reasses the "state of flux".

> The question is whether companies who are currently releasing source
> under GPLv2 will be prohibited from releasing the code under GPLv2
> if they do something as innocuous as apply a publicly posted patch.

If the patch is under GPLv3+ and the code base is GPLv2+, then they
can release the code under GPLv3+, but not GPLv2.  And if it were
innocuous, why would one be applying the patch in the first place?

> Try a pragmatic approach, rather than a dogmatic approach.

Personally, I consider the FSF's move very pragmatic as a way to
spread the GPLv3 defenses as widely as possible as quickly as
possible.  Nobody is forced to take the license upgrade right away,
but those who don't will face a growing maintenance cost, which is an
economic incentive for the upgrade.  Neat, isn't it?

Alexandre Oliva
FSF Latin America Board Member
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva@{,}
Free Software Evangelist  oliva@{,}

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