Free Software Foundation Releases Guidelines for Revising the Widely Used GNU GPL First Public Discussion Scheduled for January



    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
 17, 2006.
     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
 non-commercial users."
     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
 January.
     "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
 internationally.
     "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

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