Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho

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en/debian/gpl-dfsg.txt

2004-05-14

What if GPLv3 were non-free

Recent discussions within Debian that make a noticeable detachment from the FSF point of view toward freeness, mainly about the GNU Free Documentation License and other documentation licenses, have induced me to wonder whether this is a symptom of a deeper difference of opinion between Debian and FSF.

FSF is supposed to be developing the next generation GPL. One of the rumours about potential changes involve a requirement to post sources of GPL'd software that is used to power a website. If GPLv3 really included such a requirement, then I believe it would fail the DFSG (no restrictions on usage). It is also possible that the same difference of opinion between Debian and FSF that is now manifesting itself in the GFDL debate would end up causing us to reject GPLv3, even if it didn't include that particular restriction. It is likely that many free software authors, certainly all FSF projects, would eventually start licensing their software under GPLv3 (or, at your option, any later version).

Then we would be in real deep shit.

Update 2004-05-18: I seem to have been a little sloppy writing the above. I do not claim that a GPLv3 of the kind I indicate above necessarily fails the DFSG (such a claim would be nonsensical before an actual draft of GPLv3 is published). I intended to say that I expect to see such arguments if and when such a GPL is released, and I would not be surprised if such an attitude were to win the eventual argument. The point of this post is to show where that would lead us.

I'll reprint here a comment I posted to this entry earlier:

I have no particular wish to see Debian and FSF disagree about the freeness of GPL, for the reasons I gave in the post.

22:03 - /en/debian - 9 comments