[kaffe] GPLv3

Jim Pick jim at kaffe.org
Tue Jan 17 10:11:12 PST 2006


Licensing threads bug me, but the discussion is going to happen anyways.

The first draft of the GPLv3 is out...


What do people think?

I only glanced at it, but there are some things I like.

I think it really helps clear up the FUD (fear-uncertainty-doubt) that 
claims that a GPL'd virtual machine like Kaffe would only be allowed to 
run GPL'd Java applications.

Here's the specific language from the exception clause:

  As a special exception, the Complete Corresponding Source Code need
  not include a particular subunit if (a) the identical subunit is
  normally included as an adjunct in the distribution of either a major
  essential component (kernel, window system, and so on) of the
  operating system on which the executable runs or a compiler used to
  produce the executable or an object code interpreter used to run it,
  and (b) the subunit (aside from possible incidental extensions) serves
  only to enable use of the work with that system component or compiler
  or interpreter, or to implement a widely used or standard interface,
  the implementation of which requires no patent license not already
  generally available for software under this License.

I understand that the license is supposed to be anti-DRM as well.  I 
imagine this where the real battle is going to be.  The legal language 
which prevents the code from being used in systems that use DRM is 
pretty broad, I think.  I can see people who want to use GPLv3 stuff in 
closed systems are going to have a lot of room to play games.  I can see 
a lot of legal activity arising out of this, which is something that the 
GPLv2 hasn't really been afflicted with.   Again, I didn't read it very 

There is also some language about patents.

Kaffe is currently under the GPLv2.  As I understand it, we can opt to 
upgrade our license to GPLv3.  Or we could stick with GPLv2.

If we upgrade to GPLv3, old versions will still be available to people 
that can't handle the new license terms.

If we stick with GPLv2, other people could take that, and apply the 
GPLv3 license to it.

I wonder what the Debian legal folks think about the new license?

At this point, I think I'm leaning towards using GPLv3, because it helps 
de-FUD Kaffe a bit.

On the other hand, I can imagine that the GPLv3 will create big 
headaches for companies like my present employer (whom I'm still 
employed with until mid-March).  They make a settop box for cable 
companies, which completely locks down the content on the box.  If the 
anti-DRM measures are effective, and things like the Linux kernel, 
glibc, coreutils, busybox, etc. go GPLv3, they might have to get their 
OS code somewhere else.  Most consumer electronics companies building 
embedded products are in the same boat, I imagine.


 - Jim

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