The new version of the Gnu General Public License (GPL) moves one step closer to release today as the third draft is released for public discussion. The GPL is the basic legal tool by which free software is kept free, and it has held up for many years (v.1 was released in 1989). Recent developments in the commercialization of open source software have shown up some loopholes and weaknesses in the license.
Richard Stallman, president of the FSF and principal author of the GNU GPL, said, “The GPL was designed to ensure that all users of a program receive the four essential freedoms which define free software. These freedoms allow you to run the program as you see fit, study and adapt it for your own purposes, redistribute copies to help your neighbor, and release your improvements to the public. The recent patent agreement between Microsoft and Novell aims to undermine these freedoms. In this draft we have worked hard to prevent such deals from making a mockery of free software.”
Incorporating public and expert comments on previous drafts (the second draft was released in July 2006), this latest draft is open to comment for 60 days and then will be made official 30 days later.