GPLv3 Draft 3 Comments

I recently sent my comments on GPL version 3 draft 3 to the FSF, and now I’ve marked them up and put them on I think I found at least one bug in the latest draft, in the new language on User Products.

It’s interesting that there’s been relatively little discussion of GPLv3 within the Mozilla community. Is that because we all think it’s uncontroversial? :-)

5 thoughts on “GPLv3 Draft 3 Comments

  1. On your comments page, the link to the FSF comments tool does not work…

  2. So, honestly, I barely care about it. The GPL claims to be free, but the freedoms it affords to code users are eclipsed by those offered by either a BSDish license or the MPL, and since this is an explicit goal of the GPL, it will never be as interesting to me as a freer license. The MPL is enough for me.

  3. Stefan, Alan: Fixed, thanks.

    Jeff: I don’t think it’s useful to say that either of the GPL and the BSD licence is “more free” than the other, because the freedoms they offer are different. The GPL prioritises the freedom of everyone in the software chain, which requires restricting the ability of the immediate recipient to do certain things with it; the BSD license prioritises the freedom of the immediate recipient, thereby potentially allowing the freedom of downstream recipients to be restricted.

    So the BSD-licensed code in http://ftp.exe on a Windows machine is not free any more, under the “four freedoms” definition – I can’t get the source and make my own, better http://ftp.exe (which wouldn’t be hard!). This is because Microsoft exercised their “immediate recipient” freedom under the BSD licence to make it proprietary, thereby restricting my software-freedom as a downstream recipient. The GPL doesn’t let them do that, so if they’d used GPLed code, their freedom-of-action would have been restricted, but I would have received free software instead of proprietary software.

  4. I believe it’s a bit rude to force others to follow your rules to use the code you’re giving them, which is what licenses do, and the GPL forces more rule-following than MPL/BSD. Releasing a piece of code should be the decision of the author of the code (and for modifications, the author of said modifications), and I consider forcing this morality on the user of a piece of code offensive.

    As for the http://ftp.exe example, the original code is still entirely free, so you missed only the modifications that Microsoft may (or may not) have made to it. Sure, it would have been nice if they’d released it, but the decision should be theirs to freely make. Forcing them to release won’t make them any more willing to help you in your goals of having a base of good, freely available code, and it may make them more likely to look elsewhere for less restrictive code or just rewrite it themselves, neither of which helps you or other users of the code you have made available. If the FTP code had been GPL-licensed, do you think Microsoft would have actually used it?