From info-gplv3 at  Thu May 31 14:10:04 2007
From: info-gplv3 at (GPLv3 Information)
Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 14:10:04 -0400
Subject: [Info-gplv3] Why Upgrade to GPLv3 and "Last Call" Draft
Message-ID: <>

		Why Upgrade to GPL Version 3
		     -- Richard Stallman

Version 3 of the GNU General Public License will soon be finished,
enabling free software packages to upgrade from GPL version 2.  This
article explains why upgrading the license is important.

First of all, it is important to note that upgrading is a choice.  GPL
version 2 will remain a valid license, and no disaster will happen if
some programs remain under GPLv2 while others advance to GPLv3.  These
two licenses are incompatible, but that isn't a serious problem.

When we say that GPLv2 and GPLv3 are incompatible, it means there is
no legal way to combine code under GPLv2 with code under GPLv3 in a
single program.  This is because both GPLv2 and GPLv3 are copyleft
licenses: each of them says, "If you include code under this license
in a larger program, the larger program must be under this license
too."  There is no way to make them compatible.  We could add a
GPLv2-compatibility clause to GPLv3, but it wouldn't do the job,
because GPLv2 would need a similar clause.

Fortunately, license incompatibility only matters when you want to
link, merge or combine code from two different programs into a single
program.  There is no problem in having GPLv3-covered and
GPLv2-covered programs side by side in an operating system.  For
instance, the TeX license and the Apache license are incompatible with
GPLv2, but that doesn't stop us from running TeX and Apache in the
same system with Linux, Bash and GCC.  This is because they are all
separate programs.  Likewise, if Bash and GCC move to GPLv3, while
Linux remains under GPLv2, there is no conflict.

Keeping a program under GPLv2 won't create problems.  The reason to
migrate is because of the existing problems which GPLv3 will address.

One major danger that GPLv3 will block is tivoization.  Tivoization
means computers (called "appliances") contain GPL-covered software
that you can't change, because the appliance shuts down if it detects
modified software.  The usual motive for tivoization is that the
software has features the manufacturer thinks lots of people won't
like.  The manufacturers of these computers take advantage of the
freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do

Some argue that competition between appliances in a free market should
suffice to keep nasty features to a low level.  Perhaps competition
alone would avoid arbitrary, pointless misfeatures like "Must shut
down between 1pm and 5pm every Tuesday", but even so, a choice of
masters isn't freedom.  Freedom means _you_ control what your software
does, not merely that you can beg or threaten someone else who decides
for you.

In the crucial area of Digital Restrictions Management--nasty features
designed to restrict your use of the data in your
computer--competition is no help, because relevant competition is
forbidden.  Under the Digital Millenuium Copyright Act and similar
laws, it is illegal, in the US and many other countries, to distribute
DVD players unless they restrict the user according to the official
rules of the DVD conspiracy (its web site is,
but the rules do not seem to be published there).  The public can't
reject DRM by buying non-DRM players, because none are available.  No
matter how many products you can choose from, they all have equivalent
digital handcuffs.

GPLv3 ensures you are free to remove the handcuffs.  It doesn't forbid
DRM, or any kind of feature.  It places no limits on the substantive
functionality you can add to a program, or remove from it.  Rather, it
makes sure that you are just as free to remove nasty features as the
distributor of your copy was to add them.  Tivoization is the way they
deny you that freedom; to protect your freedom, GPLv3 forbids

The ban on tivoization applies to any product whose use by consumers,
even occasionally, is to be expected.  GPLv3 tolerates tivoization
only for products that are almost exclusively meant for businesses and
organizations.  (The latest draft of GPLv3 states this criterion

Another threat that GPLv3 resists is that of patent deals like the
Novell-Microsoft deal.  Microsoft wants to use its thousands of
patents to make GNU/Linux users pay Microsoft for the privilege, and
made this deal to try to get that.  The deal offers Novell's customers
rather limited protection from Microsoft patents.

Microsoft made a few mistakes in the Novell-Microsoft deal, and GPLv3
is designed to turn them against Microsoft, extending that limited
patent protection to the whole community.  In order to take advantage
of this, programs need to use GPLv3.

Microsoft's lawyers are not stupid, and next time they may manage to
avoid those mistakes.  GPLv3 therefore says they don't get a "next
time".  Releasing a program under GPL version 3 protects it from
Microsoft's future attempts to make redistributors collect Microsoft
royalties from the program's users.

GPLv3 also provides for explicit patent protection of the users from
the program's contributors and redistributors.  With GPLv2, users rely
on an implicit patent license to make sure that the company which
provided them a copy won't sue them, or the people they redistribute
copies to, for patent infringement.

The explicit patent license in GPLv3 does not go as far as we might
have liked.  Ideally, we would make everyone who redistributes
GPL-covered code surrender all software patents, along with everyone
who does not redistribute GPL-covered code.  Software patents are a
vicious and absurd system that puts all software developers in danger
of being sued by companies they have never heard of, as well as by all
the megacorporations in the field.  Large programs typically combine
thousands of ideas, so it is no surprise if they implement ideas
covered by hundreds of patents.  Megacorporations collect thousands of
patents, and use those patents to bully smaller developers.  Patents
already obstruct free software development.

The only way to make software development safe is to abolish software
patents, and we aim to achieve this some day.  But we cannot do this
through a software license.  Any program, free or not, can be killed
by a software patent in the hands of an unrelated party, and the
program's license cannot prevent that.  Only court decisions or
changes in patent law can make software development safe from patents.
If we tried to do this with GPLv3, it would fail.

Therefore, GPLv3 seeks to limit and channel the danger.  In
particular, we have tried to save free software from a fate worse than
death: to be made effectively proprietary, through patents.  The
explicit patent license of GPLv3 makes sure companies that use the GPL
to give users the four freedoms cannot turn around and use their
patents to tell some users "That doesn't include you."  It also stops
them from colluding with other patent holders to do this.

Further advantages of GPLv3 include better internationalization,
gentler termination, support for BitTorrent, and compatibility with
the Apache license.  (For full information, see  All
in all, plenty of reason to upgrade.

Change is unlikely to cease once GPLv3 is released.  If new threats to
users' freedom develop, we will have to develop GPL version 4.  It is
important to make sure that programs will have no trouble upgrading to
GPLv4 when the time comes.

One way to do this is to release a program under "GPL version 3 or any
later version".  Another way is for all the contributors to a program
to state a proxy who can decide on upgrading to future GPL versions.
The third way is for all the contributors to assign copyright to one
designated copyright holder, who will be in a position to upgrade the
license version.  One way or another, programs should provide this
flexibility for the future.

Copyright 2007 Richard Stallman
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted
worldwide without royalty in any medium provided this notice is preserved.

		      Last Call Draft of Version 3, 31 May 2007


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receiving the covered work authorizing them to use, propagate, modify
or convey a specific copy of the covered work, then the patent license
you grant is automatically extended to all recipients of the covered
work and works based on it.

  A patent license is "discriminatory" if it does not include within
the scope of its coverage, prohibits the exercise of, or is
conditioned on the non-exercise of one or more of the rights that are
specifically granted under this License.  You may not convey a covered
work if you are a party to an arrangement with a third party that is
in the business of distributing software, under which you make payment
to the third party based on the extent of your activity of conveying
the work, and under which the third party grants, to any of the
parties who would receive the covered work from you, a discriminatory
patent license (a) in connection with copies of the covered work
conveyed by you (or copies made from those copies), or (b) primarily
for and in connection with specific products or compilations that
contain the covered work, unless you entered into that arrangement,
or that patent license was granted, prior to 28 March 2007.

  Nothing in this License shall be construed as excluding or limiting
any implied license or other defenses to infringement that may
otherwise be available to you under applicable patent law.

  12.[7] No Surrender of Others' Freedom.

  If conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
excuse you from the conditions of this License.  If you cannot convey the
Program, or other covered work, so as to satisfy simultaneously your
obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as
a consequence you may not convey it at all.  For example, if you agree to terms
that obligate you to collect a royalty for further conveying from those to whom
you convey the Program, the only way you could satisfy both those terms and
this License would be to refrain entirely from conveying the Program.

  13. Use with the GNU Affero General Public License.

  Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, you have
permission to link any covered work with a work licensed under version
3 (or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation) of
the GNU Affero General Public License, and to convey the resulting
combination.  The terms of this License will continue to apply to your
covered work but will not apply to the work with which it is linked,
which will remain governed by the GNU Affero General Public License.

  14.[9] Revised Versions of this License.

  The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of
the GNU General Public License from time to time.  Such new versions will
be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to
address new problems or concerns.

  Each version is given a distinguishing version number.  If the
Program specifies that a certain numbered version of the GNU General
Public License "or any later version" applies to it, you have the
option of following the terms and conditions either of that numbered
version or of any later version published by the Free Software
Foundation.  If the Program does not specify a version number of the
GNU General Public License, you may choose any version ever published
by the Free Software Foundation.

  If the Program specifies that a proxy can decide whether future
versions of the GNU General Public License shall apply, that proxy's
public statement of acceptance of any version is permanent
authorization for you to choose that version for the Program.

  Later license versions may grant you additional or different
permissions.  However, no additional obligations are imposed on any
author or copyright holder as a result of your choosing to follow a
later version.

  15.[11] Disclaimer of Warranty.


  16.[12] Limitation of Liability.


  17. Interpretation of Sections 15 and 16.

  If the disclaimer of warranty and limitation of liability provided
above cannot be given local legal effect according to their terms,
reviewing courts shall apply local law that most closely approximates
an absolute waiver of all civil liability in connection with the
Program, unless a warranty or assumption of liability accompanies a
copy of the Program in return for a fee.


	    How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs

  If you develop a new program, and you want it to be of the greatest
possible use to the public, the best way to achieve this is to make it
free software which everyone can redistribute and change under these terms.

  To do so, attach the following notices to the program.  It is safest
to attach them to the start of each source file to most effectively
state the exclusion of warranty; and each file should have at least
the "copyright" line and a pointer to where the full notice is found.

    <one line to give the program's name and a brief idea of what it does.>
    Copyright (C) <year>  <name of author>

    This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
    it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
    the Free Software Foundation; either version 3 of the License, or
    (at your option) any later version.

    This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
    but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
    GNU General Public License for more details.

    You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    along with this program; if not, see
    or write to the Free Software Foundation,Inc., 51 Franklin Street,
    Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301  USA

Also add information on how to contact you by electronic and paper mail.

If the program does terminal interaction, make it output a short
notice like this when it starts in an interactive mode:

    Gnomovision version 69, Copyright (C) year  name of author
    Gnomovision comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details type `show w'.
    This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it
    under certain conditions; type `show c' for details.

The hypothetical commands `show w' and `show c' should show the appropriate
parts of the General Public License.  Of course, the commands you use may
be called something other than `show w' and `show c'; for a GUI interface,
you would use an "About box" instead.

You should also get your employer (if you work as a programmer) or your
school, if any, to sign a "copyright disclaimer" for the program, if
necessary.  Here is a sample; alter the names:

  Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the program
  `Gnomovision' (which makes passes at compilers) written by James Hacker.

  <signature of Ty Coon>, 1 April 1989
  Ty Coon, President of Vice

For more information on how to apply and follow the GNU GPL, see

The GNU General Public License does not permit incorporating your program
into proprietary programs.  If your program is a subroutine library, you
may consider it more useful to permit linking proprietary applications with
the library.  If this is what you want to do, use the GNU Lesser General
Public License instead of this License.