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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
<title>GPLv3 - Transcript of Richard Stallman in Brussels,
Belgium; 2007-04-01</title>
<div class="image right">
<a href="gplv3.html"><img src="/graphics/gplv3-logo-red.png" alt="GPLv3 logo" /></a>
<h1>Transcript of Richard Stallman on GPLv3 in Brussels,
Belgium; 1st of April 2007</h1>
Transcript released 4th of April 2007. Background and related
<li><a href="">The listing</a></li>
<li><a href="diff-draft2-draft3.html">Side-by-side diff of v2 and v3</a></li>
<li><a href="">Draft 3 (public comment system)</a></li>
<li><a href="">Rationale doc</a></li>
<li><a href="">dd3 FAQ</a></li>
interview by Sean Daly from that day</a></li>
<li><a href="">The 2nd draft of
LGPLv3 is out</a></li>
<li><a href="">The audio recording</a></li>
Recording thanks to Sean Daly. Transcription
by Ciarán O'Riordan.
Please support work such as this
by <a href="">joining the Fellowship of
FSFE</a>, by
<a href="/help/donate">donating to FSFE</a>, and by encouraging
others to do each. The speech was given in English.</p>
<h2>Table of contents</h2>
<li><a href="#free-sw">What is Free Software?</a></li>
<li><a href="#gnu">The GNU project</a></li>
<li><a href="#licences">Free Software licences</a></li>
<li><a href="#internationalisation">Internationalisation</a></li>
<li><a href="#tivoisation">Tivoisation</a></li>
<li><a href="#tivoisation-d3">Tivoisation - the limits in draft 3</a></li>
<li><a href="#eucd">Deflating the EUCD and DMCA</a></li>
<li><a href="#ms-novell">Novell, Microsoft, and patents</a></li>
<li><a href="#termination">Termination</a></li>
<li><a href="#added">Formalising added permissions</a></li>
<li><a href="#bittorrent">BitTorrent</a></li>
<li><a href="#retaliation">Patent retaliation and the Apache licence</a></li>
<li><a href="#bracketed">The bracketed, dated clause</a></li>
<h2 id="presentation">The Presentation</h2>
<div class="image">
<img src="rms-20070401.jpeg" alt="Richard Stallman speaking" />
<span id="free-sw">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: What
is Free Software?]</span>
<p class="indent">
In order to understand the GNU General Public License, first you have
to understand what free software means. Free Software means software
that respects the users' freedom. Software that's not free is
proprietary software. Non-free software, user subjugating software,
is distributed in a social system that keeps the users the divided and
helpless. Divided because every user is forbidden to share the
program with anyone else and helpless because the users don't have the
source code, so they can't change it, they have no control over it,
and they can't even verify independently what it's really doing. It
may have malicious features, quite often it does, and the users may
not even be able to tell what malicious features it has.
<p class="indent">
Free Software respects the users' freedom. That's why it's important
when we say free software, we're talking about freedom, not price, we
don't mean gratis software. It's not an issue of price at all, price
is merely a detail. A secondary detail, not an ethical issue. To
understand the term Free Software correctly, think of free speech, not
free beer.
<p class="indent">
Specifically, Free Software means that the user has four essential
Freedom zero is the freedom to run the program as you wish.
Freedom one is the freedom to study the source code and change it so
that the program does what you wish when you run it.
Freedom two is the freedom to help your neighbour; that is, the
freedom to distribute exact copies to others, when you wish.
Freedom three is the freedom to contribute to your community; that's
the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions, when you
<p class="indent">
Each of these freedoms is the freedom to do something if you wish,
when you wish. It's not an obligation, it's not a requirement.
You're not required to run the program. You're not required to study
it or change it. You're not required to distribute exact copies. And
you're not required to distribute modified versions. But, you are
free to do those things, when you wish.
<p class="indent">
If this were a speech to introduce Free Software I would explain the
reasons why those freedoms are essential, but in this brief
introductions I will have to omit that. Suffice it to say that if a
program respects these four freedoms, then the social system of its
distribution and use is an ethical system. Which means that, in this
regard at least, the software is ethically legitimate. But if one of
these freedoms is substantially missing, then the program is
proprietary software, meaning that the social system of its
distribution and use is unethical and regardless of what the program
does, it shouldn't be distributed in this way.
<p class="indent">
Developing a non-free program is no contribution to society. It's an
attack on freedom and social solidarity. Such attacks ought to be
discouraged, and I hope to see the day when they no longer occur.
That is the goal of the free software movement; that all computer
users should have these four freedoms, for all the software that they
use. That subjugation of others, through the software that they run,
should no longer occur.
<span id="gnu">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: The GNU
<p class="indent">
To bring this about, or at least start, in 1984 I began developing an
operating system whose purpose was to be entirely Free Software. It's
name is GNU, which is a recursive acronym for "GNU's Not Unix". This
system is, technically speaking, compatible with Unix, but the most
important thing about it is that it is not Unix. Because Unix is
proprietary software and GNU, because it's not Unix, can be made free
by us, it's developers, and that's the whole point - to give you an
operating system that you can run without ceding your freedom to
<p class="indent">
There are now tens of millions, perhaps a hundred million users of a
variant of the GNU system. Most of them don't know that it's a
variant of the GNU system because they think it's Linux. Linux is
actually one component of the system they use. A component that does
an essential job and that was developed in 1991, and liberated by its
developer in 1992. The GNU system plus Linux, which is the program we
call the kernel, made a complete free operating system in 1992. With
the GNU plus Linux combination it became possible for the first time
to use a PC compatible computer in freedom.
<span id="licences">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Free
Software licences]</span>
<p class="indent">
The way that Linux was liberated was by rereleasing it under the GNU
General Public License. The GNU General Public License is the Free
Software licence that I wrote for use in the components of the GNU
system. When we wrote these components, we made them Free Software by
releasing them under the GNU GPL.
<p class="indent">
But what does that mean? A program is legally considered a literary
work, and it's subject to copyright. Everything that you write is
automatically copyrighted - which is somewhat of an absurd law, but
that's the way it is - and copyright law, by default, forbids copying,
distribution, modification of a work. So, how can any program ever be
free software? The only way is if the copyright holders put on a
notice saying to the users "you have the four freedoms, because we
don't object". That notice is a free software licence. Any notice
which has that effect is a free software licence.
<p class="indent">
There are actually dozens of different free software licences but the
GNU GPL is the most popular one. It's used for about 70% of all free
software packages. The main difference between the GNU GPL and most
Free Software licences is that the GNU GPL is a copyleft licence.
<p class="indent">
Copyleft is a technique that I invented, a way of using copyright law
to defend the freedom of other people. In order to be a free software
licence, the licence has to recognise the four freedoms, if you get a
program under any free software licence, you have the four freedoms.
The licence gives you them. And that includes freedom number three,
the freedom to distribute copies of modified versions, and freedom
number two, the freedom to distribute copies without modification, but
when you do that, when you distribute those copies to other people,
will they have the four freedoms?
<p class="indent">
Maybe yes, maybe no, it depends how you do it. For instance, even in
1984, I could see there was a danger that you might distribute a
binary of the program without providing the source code, and that
would deny the subsequent recipients freedom number one. The freedom
to study the source code and change it so the program does what they
<p class="indent">
So if you could distribute copies without source code, people would
get it from you and they wouldn't have the four freedoms. Not all of
<p class="indent">
Another thing you might conceivably do is put on additional
restrictions. When you distribute it, perhaps you would put on a
different licence and that licence might be restrictive, it might not
respect the four freedoms for other people. If you could do that,
they who got the program from you would not have Free Software. Many
Free Software licences permit these things, so they respect the four
freedoms but they don't defend the four freedoms. A middle man could
strip off the freedom from the program and then pass on the program
to you and you would get the code but you wouldn't get freedom. You
might just get a binary, or you might get a binary with a licence that
says you're not allowed to copy it. Or you might even get source
code, but it would say you're not allowed to copy it. Various things
might happen which would result in your not getting Free Software.
<p class="indent">
My goal, in developing the GNU operating system, was specifically to
give freedom to all computer users. If it were possible for middle
men to make the software non-free - if, for instance, by changing it,
that they had an excuse to make the software non-free, the goal would
be defeated. We would fail to provide freedom to the users.
<p class="indent">
So I designed a Free Software licence specifically to make sure that
everyone who gets any version of the program gets it as free software,
with the four freedoms. In version one of the GNU GPL, which was
published in 1989, it was designed to block the two kinds of attack
that I just described to you.
<p class="indent">
One being: don't distribute the source code, release only a binary.
Well, GPL version one said a condition of distributing binaries was
that you make source code available also, to the same people. That
blocked that one attack.
<p class="indent">
The other attack was to put on additional licence terms, to change the
licence. Well, GPL version one said you have permission to distribute
copies but it has to be under this licence, no more and no less. Any
other way, you're not allowed to distribute. So, no adding other
requirements. No removing the requirements that protect peoples'
freedom. Every copy that everyone gets, legally must be distributed
under the same licence: the GNU GPL.
<p class="indent">
In 1991, I published version two of the GNU GPL, and this blocked
another possible method of attacking users' freedom. A method I
didn't know about in 1989 but which I became aware of afterward. This
would be that a patent holder might sue a redistributor, and in the
settlement the redistributor might agree "when we redistribute this
program, we will put certain restrictions on the users".
<p class="indent">
What could we do about that? Software patents are weapons that should
not exist. They attack the freedom of computer users, they sabotage
software development, they're only good for the megacorporations.
It's the megacorporations that lobby for them, with the help of their
pet government in Washington.
<p class="indent">
The fact is, in countries foolish enough to authorise software
patents, a patent holder can stop the distribution of any program that
implements the patented idea, and there's nothing we can do in the
licence of the program to prevent it from being suppressed in this
way. Because the free software licence is just permission to use the
copyright holder's copyrighted work, it has nothing to do with
somebody else's patent.
<p class="indent">
We can't prevent a patent holder from killing the program, but, we can
hope to save the program from a fate worse than death, which is, to be
made non-free, to be turned into an instrument of subjugation. Better
that our software should cease to exist, at least for 20 years, the
duration of a patent, than it become an instrument for subjugation.
And that, I found a way to do. So in GPL version two, section seven
says that if any conditions are imposed on you or you agree to any
conditions that forbid you to distribute the program with all the
freedoms granted by the GPL, then you can't distribute at all.
<p class="indent">
So anyone who tries to sue or threaten you, and tries to settle this
in a way that would turn the program into an instrument of
subjugation, discovers that all he has achieved is to kill it.
...which at least avoids the fate worse than death for the program.
And in fact, this gives our community a certain measure of safety
because very often the patent holder will not find it particularly
advantageous to kill the program. On the other hand, if the patent
could make it effectively non-free and charge people for permission to
run it, that would be advantageous. So if the patent holder could
inflict a fate worse than death, that would be more tempting than
merely to kill it off. So we actually make it less likely that any
bad thing will happen, by standing firm.
<p class="indent">
GPL version two has been used now for sixteen years. Over the years,
we saw various reasons to change it. Two years ago, we decided it was
time to start seriously working on this and get out a new version. We
realised it would take time. I set aside several months to work on
GPL version three in 2005, so as to prepare the first draft that was
released in January 2006.
<p class="indent">
We have just published the third discussion draft and we've decided to
wait for sixty days and then prepare what we hope will be the final
draft for the last bit of comments before the final draft.
<p class="indent">
So what are the changes we've made?
<p class="indent">
People often ask for a simple summary of these changes, but there
can't be one, and the reason is that the changes are all in specifics
because the basic idea is the same: defend freedom for all users.
That will never change. So all the changes are in specific areas and
details. Let me tell you about the most important ones. One of them
is internationalisation.
<span id="internationalisation">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Internationalisation]</span>
<p class="indent">
We have changed the language to avoid certain terms whose meanings
vary more than necessary between countries. Terms like "distribute".
In GPL version three, we will not use the word "distribute". We've
formulated two new terms, and defined them in ways that get results
that are as uniform worldwide as possible. The first term is
"propagate". That means basically copying, or anything else like it,
that requires permission under copyright law.
<p class="indent">
Anything except just to modify one copy or run it is to propagate the
work. And then the second term is "convey". "Convey" basically
replaces "distribute to others" but it's not defined in terms of the
word "distribute", it's defined in terms of propagate in such a way
that others may get copies. So we avoid the word "distribution", and
then, in the bulk of the licence, we set terms for propagating the
work and terms for conveying the work. And this way the resulting
conditions are as uniform as possible worldwide. Now, they will never
be exactly uniform, as long as some details of copyright law vary.
<span id="tivoisation">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section:
<p class="indent">
Another major change consists of a new form attacking a user's freedom
that we've seen in the past few years. It's called tivoisation. This
is the practice of designing a machine so that if the user installs a
modified version of a program, the machine refuses to run it.
<p class="indent">
It's named after the first product I heard of which did this, which is
called the Tivo. The Tivo contains Free Software released under
version two, and they provide the source code, so the user of the Tivo
can modify the program and compile it, and install the modified
version in his machine, whereupon the machine won't run at all because
it notices that this is a modified version. This means that in some
nominal sense, the user has freedom number one, but really, in
practical terms it has been taken away, it has been turned into a
sham. And this happens systematically, and it makes a systematic
threat to users' freedom. So we've decided to block this, and the way
we block it is as part of the conditions for distributing binaries, we
say that if you distribute in, or for use in, a certain product, then
you must provide whatever the user needs in order to install her own
modified version and have them function the same way, unless her
changes in the code change the function. But the point is that it's
not just the user has to be able to install it and has to be able to
run, but it has to be able to do the same job, despite having been
<p class="indent">
If the mere fact that the program is modified is detected and prevents
the program from doing the same job, that's also a violation, that
means that the installation information is insufficient, and that is
what would happen under Microsoft's scheme that it used to call
Palladium. The idea was that files would be encrypted so that only a
particular program could ever read them. If you got the source code
of that program and you modified it and you compiled it, the checksum
of your version would be different. So your version would be unable
to read the files encrypted for the original version. And the
original version would be unable to read any files encrypted for your
version except that there aren't any. They would pretend that this is
just a symmetrical situation and they haven't done anything to shaft
you, but our conditions say they have to give you what it takes so
that you can make your modified version do the same job, and the mere
fact that it's been modified may make it fail to do that job.
<span id="tivoisation-d3">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section:
Tivoisation - the limits in draft 3]</span>
<p class="indent">
In version three we've decided to limit this requirement somewhat.
It's limited to a category that we call "user products", which include
consumer products and anything that's going to be built into a house.
This is to exclude products that are made specifically for businesses
and are not normally used by consumers at all.
<p class="indent">
The reason we did this is because the big danger is in the area of
user products, and this way we were able to get at least a partial
agreement of businesses that at least we hope will be able to help us
actually put an end to this threat.
<p class="indent">
The products that do tivoisation typically do it because there is some
other malicious feature in the product. For instance, the Tivo spies
on the user and it implements Digital Restrictions Management. That's
why they want to stop you from changing the program. Digital
Restrictions Management is unethical. It shouldn't ever be
tolerated. And spying on the user is unethical also, but we have not
put anything in the GPL to say that you can't make the software spy on
the user or that it has to be able to copy things. There is no
restriction at all on what functionality your modified version of the
program can have.
<p class="indent">
The anti-tivoisation requirement doesn't limit you in that regard.
You can implement the nastiest features you can think of and release a
modified version with those nasty features. We're only trying to make
sure that the users who get the program from you will have the freedom
to remove those nasty features and fill in whatever useful features
you took out. They should be free to modify it just as you were free
to modify it. That's what the anti-tivoisation provisions do.
<span id="eucd">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section:
Deflating the EUCD and DMCA]</span>
<p class="indent">
We also have provisions in section three to try to defeat unjust laws
such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US and the EU
Copyright Directive and any similar laws that implement that WIPO
copyright directive - a treaty which no government representing its
citizens would ever sign.
<p class="indent">
It actually has two paragraphs. One which is aimed at the DMCA and
similar laws, and another which is aimed at the EU Copyright
Directive, but they both achieve the same goal. The goal they achieve
is, if somebody uses GPL covered software as part of a scheme to
encode or decode works, then he has waived any possibility of claiming
that some other software which decodes those works is a violation of
these laws. This is simply a way of trying to prevent people being
forbidden to distributed software, perhaps modified versions of the
same software or perhaps not but either way, we're making sure that
these laws can't be used to suppress the modified versions that people
may wish to distribute under the GPL.
<span id="ms-novell">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section:
Novell, Microsoft, and patents]</span>
<p class="indent">
There's another form of attack on Free Software's freedoms that we
found out about last November with the Novell-Microsoft deal. What
happened was that Novell made a deal with Microsoft where Novell pays
for distributing copies of GPL-covered software and Microsoft gives
the customers of Novell a very limited patent licence which is
conditional on their not exercising many of the rights that the GPL
gives them.
<p class="indent">
This is a big threat, so we've gone at it from two directions. One is
aimed at Microsoft's role in that deal. We say: if you make a deal to
procure someone else's distribution of a program under GPL version
three and you provide any sort of patent licence to anybody in
connection with that, then it extends to anybody who gets it. So if
Novell were to distribute software under GPL version three under this
deal, then this affects Microsoft because they're procuring
distribution through this deal.
<p class="indent">
The other paragraph, and these are both in section [11], is aimed at
the Novell side in the deal, which is, it says that if you distribute
the program under an arrangement you made with someone else, to gain
promises of patent safety for your customers in a discriminatory way,
then you're violating the licence and you lose your right to
<p class="indent">
This actually has a few more conditions because we were trying to
avoid covering certain other things, for instance, consider a patent
parasite, one of those companies that has only one business which is
to go around threatening people with patent law suits and making them
pay. When this happens, the businesses that are attacked often have
no choice but to pay them off. We don't want to put them in a
position of being GPL violators as a result. So we put in a
condition: "this paragraph applies only if the patent holder makes a
business of distributing software". Patent parasites don't. As a
result, the victim of the patent parasites is not put in violation by
this paragraph.
<p class="indent">
We also did something to exclude blanket cross-licences and various
other practices which are not threatening in the same way.
<p class="indent">
This section [11], which these paragraphs are included in, does somewhat
more. We decided in GPL version three that distributors should
explicitly give patent licences when they distribute the software. We
do this in two ways. Those that contribute to the development of the
program, that make any changes at all, give an affirmative patent
licence to all downstream recipients. Those who just pass along
copies, without changing it, they are bound not to sue any of those
downstream recipients or their licence terminates.
<p class="indent">
This is a sort of compromise that is designed to encourage lots of
companies to participate in the distribution, and thus, we hope, make
our community somewhat safer.
<p class="indent">
In previous versions of the GPL, we didn't have any kind of explicit
patent licence. We took for granted that if you distribute someone a
program under the GPL and you say that he's allowed to do certain
things, that you can't sue him for doing those things. And in the US,
that's true, within certain bounds, but it's not true worldwide. So
this is another aspect of internationalisation - getting the same
result around the World.
<span id="termination">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section:
<p class="indent">
Another change that we have made is in termination. With GPL version
two, if you violate the licence, you have lost your rights to do
anything with the program. And the only way to get them back is to go
to all the copyright holders and beg for forgiveness. Which in most
cases they will give you, if you show that you are going to follow the
licence in the future, but their may be lots and lots of copyright
<p class="indent">
This could be a gigantic amount of work. It could be totally
unfeasible. With GPL version three, your licence is not terminated
automatically. Rather, the copyright holder can write to you can say
"I'm putting you on notice", and after that point, the copyright
holder can terminate your licence, if he wants to. But he doesn't
have to. He could just forgive you instead if he sees that you're
going to comply.
<p class="indent">
The result is, suppose you do something that violates the licence, and
you distribute an entire GNU/Linux distribution with thousands of
programs in it, and you fail to follow the requirements. And suppose
ten copyright holders contact you and say you violated the licence,
and you say "Oops, I better do this right" and then sixty days go by
and maybe, say, five more copyright holders will contact you within
those sixty days then those are the only ones that can terminate your
licence. But the idea is that you show those fifteen developers that
you are complying now and you promise to keep doing so. And they say
"Ok, we forgive you".
<p class="indent">
You don't have to find all the other thousands of copyright holders
and ask them for forgiveness. So, as long as you keep on with your
violating practice, all the copyright holders still can put you on
notice when the word gets around to them, but when you stop violating
the licence, then they have sixty more days when they can still
complain, and then they can't complain anymore. So only the ones who
complain within that time are the ones you have to deal with.
<p class="indent">
We've also put in an automatic cure period for first time violators.
If you violate the licence, and it's the first time you violated the
licence for a certain copyright holder and you correct it within 30
days, things are automatically restored. You're ok. But that doesn't
apply the second time.
<p class="indent">
We're trying to make it easy for accidental violators, those who are
willing to clean up their act, while still facilitating enforcement
against those who don't clean up their act.
<p class="indent">
Another change we've made, has to do... ...what we've done that's new
in section 10 is we've dealt with kinds of situations that arise when
a company subdivides or sells a division to another company, what
happens then? We want to make sure this is clear. It shouldn't be
very controversial, but at least now it's well defined.
<span id="added">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section:
Formalising added permissions]</span>
<p class="indent">
Another thing that we've done is that we've formalised what it means
to give added permission. There's a practice used with GPL version
two which is common enough which is that you say "This is released
under version 2 of the GPL or later, and in addition we say you can do
X, Y, or Z". Added special permission as an exception.
<p class="indent">
And this is perfectly fine since what it means to release a program
under a free software licence is simply you give the permission stated
in the licence and you can also give other permissions.
<p class="indent">
But in order to make it clearer what this means, we've formalised it.
So we've explained that you can give additional permissions for part
of the code that you introduce into the GPL covered program, where you
have the right to give those permission. Because the program is
available under the GPL terms, when somebody modifies it, she can take
off the added permissions. The GPL gives her permission to release
her version under the GPL. She doesn't have to give any added
permissions for her version. But she could also pass on those added
permissions because she got those added permissions to you and when
she modifies those parts, she can also give those same added
permissions for those changes when she wants.
<p class="indent">
So when a program is released under GPL plus added permissions,
everyone who passes it along has a choice. Preserve the added
permissions or remove them. Section 7 explains this. It also
explains that certain kinds of explicit requirements found in other
free software licences are, under our understanding, compatible with
the GPL and that's in fact our practice with GPL version two but
again, it's good to make it explicit.
<p class="indent">
And they are basically trivial ones. Like, this copyright notice
can't be removed. Or different statements of warranty disclaimers.
They're not substantive conditions.
<p class="indent">
In draft 2, this section, section 7, was more complicated. We set it
up so that there were a few specific kinds of substantive requirements
that you could add. And so we'd need a lot more complicated mechanism
to keep track of them. A lot of people didn't like the complexity of
this. So we got rid of that and we dealt with those issues in other
ways. For instance, there's a section in the latest draft which says
when a program is released under GPL version three, you can link it
with code that is under the Affero GPL. In a previous draft, we said
that the added requirement in the Affero GPL was one of those
requirements that you could add to parts of a program that you
contribute. Now, it isn't. Now, the GPL is purely and simply the GPL
and it only allows linking with other code that was released by its
developers under the Affero GPL.
<p class="indent">
The Affero GPL, for those who don't know, is basically GNU GPL version
two, plus one additional requirement which says if you use the
software publicly on a website, then you've got to give the users of
the site a way to download the source code you're running. The source
code corresponding to the version they are talking through.
<p class="indent">
The basic idea is that for those developing software meant for use in
this way, on servers, they want those who publicly deploy modified
versions to contribute their code back to the community.
<p class="indent">
When we advised Affero on releasing this licence, we had the intention
of making a future GPL version compatible with it and this is how
we're going to achieve it.
<span id="bittorrent">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: BitTorrent]</span>
<p class="indent">
Another change that we've made is for support of things like
BitTorrent. BitTorrent is peculiar because when you receive copies,
you automatically end up distributing copies to other people and you
don't even know it. This is so bizarre, that I never imagined any
such thing back in 1991. And in fact, distributing a program under
GPL version two using BitTorrent does things that violate the GPL.
<p class="indent">
All these people are redistributing copies and they don't know it, and
they are failing to carry out their responsibilities under the GPL.
So we changed it so they won't have any problem. Obviously,
distribution using BitTorrent should be OK.
<p class="indent">
The problem has to do with binaries. The GPL's idea is that if you
distribute binaries, you've got to make source available. But if
somebody's participating in a torrent for the binaries, well, he may
not know where the source code is, and he didn't set it up anyway, and
we don't want to make him responsible for dealing with the source
code, as a mere user trying to get a copy through the torrent.
<p class="indent">
Another change, that will make things simpler for a lot of people, is
that you will now be permitted to distribute physical copies of
binaries and put the source code on a server for people to get. The
reason that wasn't allowed in the past was that for a lot of users in
the past, downloading the corresponding source code might have been
prohibitively slow and expensive.
<p class="indent">
In a lot of parts of the World, certainly, sixteen years ago, people
wouldn't have had broadband. All they would have had is dial-up
connections. You could give somebody a CD of an entire system, and if
you could say to him "to get the source code, just pull it down
through your phone line", that would have been ridiculous. So we said
you have to offer them to mail them a source CD, or other source
medium, which would have been a lot cheaper and much more feasible
than getting the whole thing through a phone line. But nowadays in
fact there are services which which download anything for you and mail
it to you on a CD anywhere in the World and they don't charge very
much. So the problem we were trying to protect against, which is that
lots of users would find it unfeasible to get the source, isn't a
problem anymore. These services charge less than a mail order service
required by GPL version two is likely to cost. So we can just say, we
presume people will use those services if they need them and we don't
have to put that requirement on every distributor.
<p class="indent">
I think this is basically it. There are many little details, and I
certainly have forgotten about some of them right now.
<p class="indent">
We took out the paragraph in GPL version two about putting on a
geographical limit saying that you can't distribute the program in a
certain country if something like patents in that country have
effectively made the program non-free. We think we've defended
against that pretty well and nobody ever used that anyway.
<p class="indent">
So, in about 90 days...
[interruption for tape change]
<span id="retaliation">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: Patent retaliation and the Apache licence]</span>
<p class="indent">
Previous drafts had a couple of provisions regarding retaliation
against aggression using software patents. First of all, there was a
very limited kind of retaliation directly in the GPL itself which said
that if somebody started using a modified version of a program and
then sued somebody else for patent infringement for making similar
improvements in his own version, that this would cause termination of
a specific right, namely the right to continue modifying the program.
<p class="indent">
We took that out because it didn't seem like it would be terribly
effective. We also, in section 7, where it allowed putting on
additional requirements, one of them was a stronger kind of patent
retaliation and there were two kinds that were allowed. The latest
draft essentially does one of them itself, and so we don't need to
make that another kind of requirement you can add. And the other
kind, it looked like nobody's actually doing it, so just for
simplicity we took out that option.
<p class="indent">
The reason that we allowed people to add these two kinds of patent
retaliation clauses was for compatibility, and one of them is used by
the Apache licence. We hoped to make GPL version three compatible
with the Apache licence and we thought we had. We were focusing on
the Apache licence's patent retaliation clause, and in previous drafts
we said it was ok to add that requirement to the code you contribute.
Now we just have that requirement, later on in the GPL, so it doesn't
even need to be added.
<p class="indent">
So we are compatible with that clause in the Apache licence but a few
months ago we noticed that there was another clause in the Apache
licence requiring indemnity in certain cases, and there's no way we
can be compatible with that. So we're not going to achieve that goal
of making GPL version three compatible with the existing Apache
licence. I regret that.
<span id="bracketed">(<a href="#menu">go to menu</a>) [Section: The
bracketed, dated clause]</span>
<p class="indent">
There's one bracketed clause in the current draft and that concerns a
cut-off date in the paragraph that forbids making deals to get patent
safety for your customers alone. We haven't decided whether that will
apply to deals that have already been signed, or only deals that are
signed after the release of this draft. And that mainly depends on
how good a job we find we have done drawing a line between these
pernicious deals and other kinds of deals that we don't want to
cover. We've come up with some criteria that seemed to do the job,
and we hope to find out whether we've really done the job.
<p class="indent">
We think that we have addressed the specific deal between Novell and
Microsoft sufficiently well with the other requirement, the one that
is aimed at Microsoft's role in that deal. Even if we post-date the
effect of the second paragraph, the one that aims at the Novell role,
such that it doesn't apply to Novell, we've dealt with that particular
deal. But if we have drawn the lines well enough, or if we can, then
we'll make it apply both to existing and to new deals. It's a
decision we haven't made yet.
[52:00, end]
[Note: for more information on GPLv3, see <a href="gplv3.html">FSFE's
GPLv3 page</a> and the background and related documents linked at the
top of this page]