BOSTON and NEW YORK, Nov. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Free Software Foundation
(FSF) and the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) today released a document
specifying the process and guidelines for revising the Foundation's GNU
General Public License (GNU GPL). The FSF will release the first discussion
draft of the new license for comment at the International Public Conference
for GPLv3 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on January 16 and
The GNU GPL is the most widely used Free Software license worldwide:
Almost three quarters of all Free Software programs (also known as Free and
Open Source Software, or FOSS) are distributed under this license. Since the
GPL's last revision more than 15 years ago, software development and the
business of distributing software have changed dramatically. Research firm
Gartner recently predicted that by 2010 more than 75 percent of IT
organizations will have formal acquisition and management strategies dealing
with Free Software. As a result, business enterprises, as well as individual
users and developers, will have an interest in the content of the new license.
"The guiding principle for developing the GPL is to defend the freedom of
all users," said Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation.
"As we address the issues raised by the community, we will do so in terms of
the four basic freedoms software users are entitled to -- to study, copy,
modify and redistribute the software they use. GPLv3 will be designed to
protect those freedoms under current technical and social conditions and will
address new forms of use and current global requirements for commercial and
After publishing the first discussion draft of the GPL in January, the FSF
will begin a structured process of eliciting feedback from the community, with
the goal of producing a final license that best defends freedom and serves
community and business. The process will include public discussion,
identification of issues, considerations of those issues, and publication of
responses. Publication of the second discussion draft is expected by summer
2006 and a last call, or final discussion draft, will be produced in the fall
of 2006. The final GPLv3 license is expected no later than spring 2007.
The document being made public today, "GPLv3 Process Definition," outlines
the principles, the timeline and the process for public comment and issue
resolution and can be viewed at http://gplv3.fsf.org. Individuals may also
register here for the first International Public Conference to take place in
"It is an exciting time in the history of software, particularly in the
history of the Free Software movement," said Eben Moglen, general counsel to
the Free Software Foundation and founding director of the Software Freedom Law
Center, which is providing logistical support and legal advice to the Free
Software Foundation. "Through this process, all voices will be heard. We will
evaluate every opinion and will consider all arguments in light of the GPL's
goals. The process is accessible, transparent and public for all those who
want to participate."
Free software community projects, global 2000 companies and individual
developers, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government
agencies, small business and individual users will be invited to participate
in the revising process of GPLv3. Individual comments will be reviewed and
addressed primarily through committees to be set up at the MIT conference.
Additionally, individual comments can be submitted on the GPL website at
http://gplv3.fsf.org or during one of the many public meetings being held
"The General Public License is a groundbreaking legal document that has
been the cornerstone of the free software movement and has created
extraordinary amounts of change in the industry," said Jim Harvey, a partner
with Alston & Bird and the leader of its Open Source practice. "It is time,
though, to analyze and address the legal and business issues that are raised
by the use of free software across the globe and the valuable and critical
business transactions that routinely transpire under the GPL."
"As a leading supporter of free and open source software and the
community, and a big proponent of the GPL and of license reform, HP is pleased
to see that the Free Software Foundation has developed an inclusive and
transparent process for updating the GPL -- a process that should increase
confidence in the GPL and further enhance cooperative development activities,"
said Christine Martino, vice president of Linux and Open Source, HP.
"Participating in the development and distribution of free and open source
software is something HP focuses on every day, and we look forward to what the
community will accomplish with GPLv3."
"The market has validated the free software model laid out in the GPL as a
powerful choice for developing enterprise software," said Joe LaSala, general
counsel for Novell. "Novell is a strong supporter of the GPL, and has
contributed millions of lines of code under the GPL. We applaud Richard
Stallman and the Free Software Foundation for involving the free software
community in creating the next version of the GPL. Novell looks forward to
actively participating in that process."
"This is an extremely important event that will have a huge impact on the
future of free software, and I'm delighted that the FSF has chosen to follow
such an open process and consult so widely," said Gary Barnett, IT research
director at Ovum. "Because this process is both inclusive and public, the FSF
is ensuring that the views of everyone with an interest in the future of the
GPL can participate in defining the next generation of the license."
"The enormous contribution of Richard Stallman and the Free Software
Foundation to software development, innovation and freedom is beyond
question," said Michael Cunningham, Red Hat general counsel. "We welcome the
FSF's announcement of efforts to improve the GPL through an open, inclusive
and international public process committed to the software freedoms that have
made the GPL successful."
About the Free Software Foundation
The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting
computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer
programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom)
software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants
-- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread
awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of
software. Their Web site, located at www.fsf.org, is an important source of
information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support their work can be made at
http://donate.fsf.org. Their headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.
About The Software Freedom Law Center
The Software Freedom Law Center -- directed by Eben Moglen, one of the
world's leading experts on copyright law as applied to software -- provides
legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance
Free and Open Source Software. The Law Center is dedicated to assisting
nonprofit open source developers and projects. For criteria on eligibility and
to apply for assistance, please visit the website at www.softwarefreedom.org.
SOURCE Free Software Foundation