GPLv3: recent misleading information
on their own code. We intentionally wrote GPLv2 (and GPLv1) so we
would not have this power. Software developers will continue to
have the right to use GPLv2 for their code after GPLv3 is
published, and we will respect their decisions.
2. In order to honor freedom 0, your freedom to run the program as
you wish, a free software license may not contain "use
restrictions" that would restrict what you can do with it.
Contrary to what some have said, the GPLv3 draft has no use
restrictions, and the final version won't either.
GPLv3 will prohibit certain distribution practices which restrict
users' freedom to modify the code. We hope this policy will
thwart the ways some companies wish to "use" free software --
namely, distributing it to you while controlling what you can do
with it. This policy is not a "use restriction": it doesn't
restrict how they, or you, can run the program; it doesn't
restrict what they, or you, can make the program do. Rather it
ensures you, as a user, are as free as they are.
3. Where GPLv2 relies on an implicit patent license, which depends on
US law, GPLv3 contains an explicit patent license that does the
same job internationally.
Contrary to what some have said, GPLv3 will not cause a company to
"lose its entire [software] patent portfolio". It simply says
that if someone has a patent covering XYZ, and distributes a
GPL-covered program to do XYZ, he can't sue the program's
subsequent users, redistributors and improvers for doing XYZ with
their own versions of that program. This has no effect on other
patents which that program does not implement.
Software patents attack the freedom of all software developers and
users; their only legitimate use is to deter aggression using
software patents. Therefore, if we could abolish every entity's
entire portfolio of software patents tomorrow, we would jump at
the chance. But it isn't possible for a software license such as
the GNU GPL to achieve such a result.
We do, however, hope that GPL v3 can solve a part of the patent
problem. The FSF is now negotiating with organizations holding
substantial patent inventories, trying to mediate between their
conflicting "extreme" positions. We hope to work out the precise
details of the explicit patent license so as to free software
developers from patent aggression under a substantial fraction of
software patents. To fully protect software developers and users
from software patents will, however, require changes in patent law.
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 http://www.fsf.org, is an
important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to
support their work can be made at . Their
headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.