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<title>Patents and GPLv3</title>
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<h1>Patents and GPLv3</h1>
<p>For printing, there is also
available <a href="patents-and-gplv3.en.pdf">a PDF of this
document</a>.</p>
<p>For more information about GPLv3 and the consultation process,
see <a href="gplv3.html">FSFE's GPLv3 project page</a>.</p>
<p>This document shows the changes which are proposed for version
three of the GNU General Public License which deal with patents. It
includes public comments made by Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen.</p>
<h2>Headings</h2>
<ul>
<li><a name="toc_About-this-document" href="#About-this-document">1 About this document</a></li>
<li><a name="toc_Basic-Permissions" href="#Basic-Permissions">2 Basic Permissions</a>
<ul>
<li><a href="#Basic-Permissions-em0">2.1 Eben Moglen speaking at the GPLv3 launch, January 16th 2006</a></li>
<li><a href="#Basic-Permissions-rms0">2.2 Richard Stallman, speaking in Turin, March 18th 2006</a></li>
</ul>
</li>
<li><a name="toc_Compatibility-with-broader-retaliation" href="#Compatibility-with-broader-retaliation">3 Compatibility with broader retaliation</a>
<ul>
<li><a href="#Compatibility-with-broader-retaliation-em0">3.1 Eben Moglen speaking at the GPLv3 launch, January 16th 2006</a></li>
<li><a href="#Compatibility-with-broader-retaliation-rms0">3.2 Richard Stallman, speaking in Brussels, February 25th 2006</a></li>
<li><a href="#Compatibility-with-broader-retaliation-rms1">3.3 Richard Stallman, speaking in Turin, March 18th 2006</a></li>
</ul>
</li>
<li><a name="toc_Explicit-patent-grant" href="#Explicit-patent-grant">4 Explicit patent grant</a>
<ul>
<li><a href="#Explicit-patent-grant-em0">4.1 Eben Moglen speaking at the GPLv3 launch, January 16th 2006</a></li>
<li><a href="#Explicit-patent-grant-rms0">4.2 Richard Stallman, speaking in Brussels, February 25th 2006</a></li>
<li><a href="#Explicit-patent-grant-rms1">4.3 Richard Stallman, speaking in Turin, March 18th 2006</a></li>
</ul>
</li>
<li><a name="toc_Liberty-or-Death" href="#Liberty-or-Death">5 Liberty or Death</a>
<ul>
<li><a href="#Liberty-or-Death-em0">5.1 Eben Moglen speaking at the GPLv3 launch, January 16th 2006</a></li>
</ul>
</li>
<li><a name="toc_Closing-comments" href="#Closing-comments">6 Closing comments</a></li>
</ul>
<h2 id="About-this-document">1 About this document</h2>
<p>This document is published by FSFE to aid understanding of the
proposed changes to the GNU General Public License (GPL) with respect
to patents. It quotes version two of the GPL, the first published
draft of version three of the GPL, Richard Stallman (the author of the
GPL), and Eben Moglen (the legal counsel of FSF).</p>
<p>The above people had no part in the compilation of this document or
the selection of material for inclusion. Ciaran O'Riordan was
responsible for those activities.</p>
<h2 id="Basic-Permissions">2 Basic Permissions</h2>
<table>
<tr align="left">
<th valign="top" width="50%">GPLv2 </th>
<th valign="top" width="50%">GPLv3, first draft </th>
</tr>
<tr align="left">
<td valign="top" width="50%">(no corresponding section in version two)</td>
<td valign="top" width="50%">2 Basic Permissions.<br />
<br />
This License explicitly affirms your unlimited
permission to run the Program. [...]<br />
<br />
This License gives unlimited permission to privately modify and run
the Program, provided you do not bring suit for patent infringement
against anyone for making, using or distributing their own works based
on the Program.</td>
</tr>
</table>
<h3 id="Basic-Permissions-em0">2.1 Eben Moglen speaking at the GPLv3 launch, January 16th 2006</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.ifso.ie/documents/gplv3-launch-2006-01-16.html#em-pat-ret">http://www.ifso.ie/documents/gplv3-launch-2006-01-16.html#em-pat-ret</a></p>
<p>[This passage reflects] the one
narrowly targeted form of direct patent retaliation we have elected to
include in this license.</p>
<p>We are not grand theorists of patent retaliation. We have been saying
for 20 years, for nearly 20 years, that patents would be a terrible
problem threatening the very existence of software freedom. I hope
that it is clear to all now that we were right.</p>
<p>None the less, we believe that broad patent retaliation clauses in
licenses promise more to users than they can really deliver.</p>
<p>Because the deterrent effect of denying the right to have and use and
distribute free software is not enough in and of itself to break most
patent aggression schemes. Where we have satisfied ourself that narrow
targeted patent retaliation may have true deterrent affect, we have
however incorporated it into the license as part of a general attempt
to do everything we can about the patent problem. Here we believe that
one narrow form of retaliation may actually have meaningful effect, so
this license gives unlimited permission to privately modify and run
the program provided that you do not bring suit for patent
infringement against anyone for making, using, or distributing, their
works based on the program. And as Richard has already told you, we
believe the operative effect of this clause would be to deny continued
opportunity to maintain privately modified versions on the part of any
party who seeks to use its patent claims to prevent similar or
equivalent modifications from being made by others. In this very
narrow field we think retaliation may actually deter aggression and we
wish therefore to include it.</p>
<h3 id="Basic-Permissions-rms0">2.2 Richard Stallman, speaking in Turin, March 18th 2006</h3>
<p><a href="/activities/gplv3/torino-rms-transcript.html#limited-retal">https://fsfe.org/activities/gplv3/torino-rms-transcript.html#limited-retal</a></p>
<p>The GPL itself does contain one very limited kind of patent
retaliation[...]. It says if you make changes in a
GPL-covered program and then somebody else makes similar changes and
you sue him for patent infringement then you lose the right to
continue making changes and copying the program to your own machines.</p>
<p>This is a very limited situation and it's meant to protect against one
particular kind of abuse on the part of server operators where they
make an improvement, which they're free to do, and run it on their
servers and they don't release their source code and if the code does
not have the Affero clause on it then they don't have to release the
source code, and then you decide that you are going to implement a
similar improvement and then they sue you for patent infringement.</p>
<h2 id="Compatibility-with-broader-retaliation">3 Compatibility with broader retaliation</h2>
<table summary="">
<tr align="left">
<th valign="top" width="50%">GPLv2 </th>
<th valign="top" width="50%">GPLv3, first draft </th>
</tr>
<tr align="left">
<td valign="top" width="50%">(no corresponding section in version two)</td>
<td valign="top" width="50%">7 e) They may impose software patent retaliation, which means
permission for use of your added parts terminates or may be
terminated, wholly or partially, under stated conditions, for users
closely related to any party that has filed a software patent lawsuit
(i.e., a lawsuit alleging that some software infringes a patent). The
conditions must limit retaliation to a subset of these two cases:
1. Lawsuits that lack the justification of retaliating against other
software patent lawsuits that lack such justification. 2. Lawsuits
that target part of this work, or other code that was elsewhere
released together with the parts you added, the whole being under the
terms used here for those parts. </td>
</tr>
</table>
<h3 id="Compatibility-with-broader-retaliation-em0">3.1 Eben Moglen speaking at the GPLv3 launch, January 16th 2006</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.ifso.ie/documents/gplv3-launch-2006-01-16.html#em-section7e">http://www.ifso.ie/documents/gplv3-launch-2006-01-16.html#em-section7e</a></p>
<p>Part (e), which is phrased with some complexity, unfortunately, but it
is necessary, states again a position on a subject of great
controversy on which we wish to secure flexibility. Part (e) contains
a two-part definition of what we consider defensive patent
retaliation, and we say that you may put defensive patent retaliation
additional requirements on your parts of a GPL'd work, if you wish to,
and those parts will bear that requirement but can be ad-mixed with
other GPL'd code.</p>
<p>Again, we do not enforce those requirements, but we do not prohibit
code bearing such requirements to be mixed with GPL'd code. The
definition we have offered is a meta-language definition of defensive
patent retaliation terms. We have worked it very carefully, we have
subjected it to formal verification process, and we believe that it
correctly describes all of the cases that it is our intention to
include, and none of the cases that it was our intention to exclude. I
will say here about those conclusions that the patent retaliation
provisions of the ASL 2 and the patent retaliation provisions of the
Eclipse license, in our working of this example, meet this standard.</p>
<p>Accordingly, we believe that without further alteration, were this
discussion draft to be GPL3 it would have attained full compatibility
with both ASL 2 and the Eclipse license, which are presently separated
from compatibility with GPL version 2 by their patent retaliation
terms and those alone.</p>
<h3 id="Compatibility-with-broader-retaliation-rms0">3.2 Richard Stallman, speaking in Brussels, February 25th 2006</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.ifso.ie/documents/rms-gplv3-2006-02-25.html#compatibility">http://www.ifso.ie/documents/rms-gplv3-2006-02-25.html#compatibility</a></p>
<p>Another big change - comparatively big - is that we've decided to make
the GPL compatible with some additional free software licences that
are incompatible with GPL version two. It's a practical inconvenience,
this incompatibility, and it's nice to get rid of it. We can't get rid
of all these incompatibilities because that would require eviscerating
the GPL, making it null, effectively. The GPL requires that users must
get certain freedoms and we can't allow the addition of absolutely any
requirement but instead we decided to list a specific set of
additional requires that are ok. So other licences can add
requirements of those kinds.</p>
<p>[...] another kind of requirement that the GPLv3 is compatible with,
and that is: patent retaliation. There are several free software
licences that have patent retaliation clauses where they say that if
you sue for software patent infringement, then you lose the right to
use and distribute this program. And the details vary, because
different licences work this out in different ways, so we drew up a
criterion for acceptable software patent retaliation clauses and they
are allowed now in GPL version three in compatible licences. So a
licence can be compatible with GPL version 3 and contain a software
patent retaliation clause - but only certain kinds of software patent
retaliation clauses.</p>
<p>There are two kinds that we said are ok. One kind is where retaliation
only occurs against aggression. You see, if Party A sues B for patent
infringement, the thing B is most likely to do, if he can, is
counter-sue. If Party B has a software patent, Party B will look for a
way to counter-sue. We've decided we want retaliation only against A,
not against B. We want retaliation only against those who commit the
aggression. Not against those who are themselves retaliating. So we
have a way to make the distinction.</p>
<p>The other kind of software patent retaliation clause that's okay is
where it retaliates only from lawsuits directed at the same code or
code that was released with it. That is, retaliation for software
patent lawsuits that are targeted very close to the same program that
would target them.</p>
<h3 id="Compatibility-with-broader-retaliation-rms1">3.3 Richard Stallman, speaking in Turin, March 18th 2006</h3>
<p><a href="/activities/gplv3/torino-rms-transcript.html#compatibility-with-patent-retaliation">https://fsfe.org/activities/gplv3/torino-rms-transcript.html#compatibility-with-patent-retaliation</a></p>
<p>There's another kind of requirement that we've decided to permit, and
this is patent retaliation clauses. Now, the reason is that there are
several other free software licences that have patent retaliation
clauses.</p>
<p>Patent retaliation means, if you sue somebody for patent infringement,
then you lose the right to use this code.</p>
<p>Of course there are many ways to do that because every patent
retaliation clause puts on some specifics, if you sue him or him for
patent infringement in certain circumstances, then you lose the right
to use this code, and the question is, what are those circumstances,
what are the conditions under which the retaliation operates.</p>
<p>Now, we saw that there are some very broad and nasty patent
retaliation clauses. Some of them say, "if you sue me for patent
retaliation, for any reason about anything, you lose the right to use
this code". Now that's bad because it means, suppose I sue you for
patent infringement and you have a patent so you counter sue me, and
then my free software licence retaliates against you and you lose the
right to use that code, now that's not fair because in that case you
are defending yourself, you're not the aggressor, so we decided to
accept only patent retaliation clauses that are limited enough that
they do not retaliate against defense, that they only retaliate
against aggression, so there are two kinds of clauses that we
identified that do this. One is, if the clause itself, makes a
distinction between defense and aggression, so it says, if you sue
somebody for patent infringement and it's aggression, then you lose
the right to use this code, but if you are suing in retaliation for
aggression, then what you are doing is defensive and then we do not
retaliate against you.</p>
<p>This is one kind of patent retaliation clause that we accept.</p>
<p>The other kind is, if you sue, alleging that some free software,
relating to this code is patent infringement, then you lose the right
to use this code. In the broad space of possible kinds of patent
retaliation clauses, we picked two kinds, each of which is limited
enough that it will not retaliate against people for practicing
defense with patents. It will only retaliate against aggressors. And
we've said these two kinds of clauses are OK to add to your code in a
GNU GPL covered program. This is a conceptually complicated
thing. There's no way to make it any simpler, I hope, at least, that
I've explained it clearly.</p>
<h2 id="Explicit-patent-grant">4 Explicit patent grant</h2>
<table summary="">
<tr align="left">
<th valign="top" width="50%">GPLv2 </th>
<th valign="top" width="50%">GPLv3, first draft </th>
</tr>
<tr align="left"><td valign="top" width="50%">(no corresponding
section in version two) </td>
<td valign="top" width="50%">11 Licensing of Patents.<br />
<br />
When you distribute a covered work, you grant a patent license to the
recipient, and to anyone that receives any version of the work,
permitting, for any and all versions of the covered work, all
activities allowed or contemplated by this License, such as
installing, running and distributing versions of the work, and using
their output. This patent license is nonexclusive, royalty-free and
worldwide, and covers all patent claims you control or have the right
to sublicense, at the time you distribute the covered work or in the
future, that would be infringed or violated by the covered work or any
reasonably contemplated use of the covered work.<br />
<br />
If you distribute a covered work knowingly relying on a patent
license, you must act to shield downstream users against the possible
patent infringement claims from which your license protects you. </td>
</tr>
</table>
<h3 id="Explicit-patent-grant-em0">4.1 Eben Moglen speaking at the GPLv3 launch, January 16th 2006</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.ifso.ie/documents/gplv3-launch-2006-01-16.html#em-section11">http://www.ifso.ie/documents/gplv3-launch-2006-01-16.html#em-section11</a></p>
<p>Now, in section 11, we reach, as Richard told you in his opening, the
next major area of change under the license. These two paragraphs
point in different directions and I want to take them separately.</p>
<p>The first paragraph is simply a grant of patent claims that every
distributor, licensor, modifier makes in the act of propagation that
allows others to receive copies.</p>
<p>GPL version 2 depended on the implicit patent license in US patent law
which is assumed to burden any manufacturer who distributes any
product practising its own claims. That implicit patent license, in US
law, had the protection of obscurity, and we appreciated
that. Unfortunately, we can no longer afford any obscurity with
respect to patents and it was a creature of US patent law, absent in
most of the World's patent systems, and actively disclaimed by
some. It was therefore clear to us that a deliberate and explicit
grant of patent rights would be necessary in the license, and this is
it.</p>
<p>Those who have fun making patent licenses -- a sub-group of a
sub-group of a sub-group in this room -- may be able to improve on
that one, and we certainly encourage the attempt.</p>
<p>The last sentence is a different kettle of fish altogether.</p>
<p>Here, we face a problem that we all, or at least those of us steeped
in the patent problem as it presently exists, know is there but which
everybody has been reluctant to deal with and we now serve notice that
something must be done.</p>
<p>This is not about restrictions upon you put by that patent
license. That remains covered by the, used to be section 7, now
section 12, that I'm about to show you. This is not about what happens
if your license contains terms incompatible with GPL, that's a
separate question. This question is: what to do to prevent patent
distributors from in-succinctly putting their customers or
beneficiaries in a position of a danger from which they themselves are
exempt by non-sublicenseable licenses.</p>
<p>We recognise that for parties who have extensive portfolios that are
extensively cross-licensed, what we are saying here for the first time
creates questions concerning their cross-licenses in relation to their
distribution.</p>
<p>We recognise also that to say that you must "act to shield" is not
explicit enough. We recognise that this is a very hard problem and
though we have worked long at it we have no unique solution to offer
you, even as a beginning for conversation.</p>
<p>In this coming year, those of us within this group who care about this
problem, who are affected by the question, who have deep knowledge of
this issue, who bear many patents as a badge of ...well, whatever it
is that bearing many patents is a badge of, will have to work at it
together, but we believe that the community must now face that
question: how to prevent people from being deliberately endangered by
those who are not suffering with them a common fate.</p>
<p>Note that the words are "if you knowingly rely on a patent
license". We are not speaking about what happens if you have many 10s
of thousands of patents and cross-license for many 100s of thousands
more and have no idea whether a particular claim that you may have
cross-licensed might read on some code you might be distributing.</p>
<p>And the question of what constitutes reliance on a license is also
open for discussion but the basic principal is one we believe we must
now deal with, that parties should act with recognition of the danger
that patents pose to their customers, their colleagues, their
distributees, and that we should demand of people that they
affirmatively act to do what they can as part of a community to
constrain the harm that patents are doing to that community at large.</p>
<h3 id="Explicit-patent-grant-rms0">4.2 Richard Stallman, speaking in Brussels, February 25th 2006</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.ifso.ie/documents/rms-gplv3-2006-02-25.html#patents">http://www.ifso.ie/documents/rms-gplv3-2006-02-25.html#patents</a></p>
<p>We decided that the implicit patent licences that we were relying on
in GPL version two, were not solid enough so we put in an explicit
grant of patent licence on the part of whoever distributes the
software.</p>
<p>[Richard points at audience member] If she gives you a copy of the
program, she is implicitly giving you a patent licence for any patent
that she has or controls that you would need to infringe in order to
use the software or use its output.</p>
<p>This follows various other free software licences that came out during
the 90s.</p>
<p>Suppose someone is distributing a program, and he has a patent
licence. So he thinks the program infringes some patent, but he has a
patent licence so he's not going to be sued, but you might get sued if
you redistribute it. That's not fair, so we put in a requirement that
if he knows he's relying on a patent licence, he has to do something
to ensure that he's shielding you as well when you carry out the
freedoms that the GPL gives you. This is a matter of honesty.</p>
<p>When he distributes the program to you and says "this is under the
GPL, you're free to redistribute this", and at the same time he knows
that if you redistribute it you'll get sued, even though he can't get
sued, that's dishonesty. So we require him to do something to make
sure you won't get sued either, if he knowingly relys on a patent
licence.</p>
<p>On the other hand, if he's just taking his chances, he doesn't have to
do anything special. [skip] that's the most we can ask.</p>
<p>But, this is complicated because there are mega corporations that have
blanket cross-licences. Two mega corporations say "we'll cross licence
all our patents", and they don't even know what they have patent
licences for. So this is why we put in the "knowingly rely on" part,
because we don't want to impose a requirement on, say, IBM, to do
something for other people when IBM doesn't even know that it has a
patent licence for a certain patent. So we put in those words
"knowingly rely on". This apparently is rather controversial: exactly
where that line should be drawn. But it's actually a pretty small
change.</p>
<h3 id="Explicit-patent-grant-rms1">4.3 Richard Stallman, speaking in Turin, March 18th 2006</h3>
<p><a href="/activities/gplv3/torino-rms-transcript.html#patent-grant">https://fsfe.org/activities/gplv3/torino-rms-transcript.html#patent-grant</a></p>
<p>GPL version two is based on an implicit grant of a patent licence. The
idea is that if somebody says "here is a thing and you can use it",
implicitly he's promising he's not going to sue you for patent
infringement if you go ahead and do what he said; however, since in
the past eight years or so some other free software licences have
included explicit statements of patent licenses, patent licence grants
by people distributing the software, and so we decided to do the same
thing, and we've included an explicit statement that the distributors
of the software all promise not to sue anybody who is using any
version of that software for patent infringement based on the versions
that they distributed. Basically, whatever their versions do, they're
promising not to sue you for.</p>
<p>However, there's a subtlety that came up in this. What if somebody
doesn't have a patent but he has got a licence for that patent, and he
distributes the code to you. Well, does that licence he got include
your exercise of the four freedoms? Including your freedom to
redistribute copies yourself, with changes? Maybe not, but if it
doesn't, it creates a dangerous and unfair situation. Unfair to you
because he is distributing the software, or distributing his version
of the software, and he is not going to get sued for patent
infringement because he got a licence. He distributes it to you under
the GPL and the GPL says you are free to redistribute it too, but if
you do that you might get sued because his patent license might not
cover you.</p>
<p>Well, this is unfair, this is something that's not supposed to
happen. He received this program under the GPL and the GPL says when
he distributes a version of it, he must really give you the freedom to
do the same. If he can count on safely doing it, and he knows you will
get sued if you do it, by a third party, he's cheating. So, GPL
version three, along with the explicit patent licence grant, says that
if he is knowingly relying on a patent licence for distributing his
version, he must take some effective step to protect you as well if
you distribute.</p>
<p>Now, the reason it talks about "knowingly relying" is that there are
companies that have signed blanket cross licences with other
companies, so the company distributing the program, might have some
blanket cross licence with some company, and that blanket cross
licence might cover a thousand patents, and they don't even know what
those thousand patents say. So, if they don't even know that they have
a patent licence, they're not required to pay attention, but if they
know about a specific patent that would cover this program, that means
they are knowingly relying on a patent licence and that means they
have to keep you safe as well. This is a very controversial
decision. It may seem like a subtle point, it covers a peculiar
scenario, but it's not an impossible scenario. It could be a very
important scenario. In this scenario, this point is essential to
ensure that the GPL really does what it intends to do, which is, make
sure that you do get the freedom to redistribute the software that you
got. And this is typical of the ways that we are changing GPL version
three. They apply to complicated scenarios but those scenarios may
happen frequently, and in those scenarios we are trying to make sure
that you really get the four fundamental freedoms which that free
software.</p>
<p>So here we're talking about what is necessary to ensure that freedom
two really exist for you in a certain special scenario, freedom two
being the freedom to redistribute copies and also freedom three, it
applies to that too.</p>
<h2 id="Liberty-or-Death">5 Liberty or Death</h2>
<table summary="">
<tr align="left">
<th valign="top" width="50%">GPLv2 </th>
<th valign="top" width="50%">GPLv3, first draft </th>
</tr><tr align="left">
<td valign="top" width="50%">7. If<em>, as a consequence of a court
judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason
(not limited to patent issues)</em>, 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 distribute so as to satisfy
simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other
pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not
distribute <em>the Program</em> at all. For example, if a patent
license would not permit royalty-free redistribution <em>of the
Program</em> by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly
through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this
License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the
Program.<br />
<br />
<em>If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under
any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to
apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other
circumstances.</em><br />
<br />
It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any
patents or other property right claims or to contest validity <em>of any
such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting</em> the
integrity of the free software distribution system<em>, which is
implemented by public license practices.</em></td>
<td valign="top" width="50%">12 Liberty or Death for the Program.<br />
<br />
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
distribute the Program<em>, or other covered work,</em> so as to satisfy
simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other
pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute it
at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free
redistribution by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly
through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this
License would be to refrain entirely from distribution.<br />
<br />
It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any
patents or other exclusive rights or to contest <em>their legal</em>
validity. <em>The sole purpose of this section is to protect</em> the integrity
of the free software distribution system.</td>
</tr>
</table>
<h3 id="Liberty-or-Death-em0">5.1 Eben Moglen speaking at the GPLv3 launch, January 16th 2006</h3>
<p><a href="http://www.ifso.ie/documents/gplv3-launch-2006-01-16.html#em-section12">http://www.ifso.ie/documents/gplv3-launch-2006-01-16.html#em-section12</a></p>
<p>We wish to point out, both in that language and in the illustration,
that an agreement which imposes obligations on you, like a court order
or other judgement, raises the problem which we used to call a section
7 problem and we shall now find ourselves calling a section 12
problem, ah, raises a section 12 problem because those condition
because those conditions are imposed on you. Whether you have
self-imposed them or they have been externally imposed, it's the fact
that you have conflicting obligations that prevents you from
distributing. It's not a punishment, it's the observations of a
fact. It's not good enough to say "I have to violate the license", you
just can't.</p>
<p>This has always been seen as being about the patent problem, and in
some sense it is. It wasn't the only way you could get into section 12
trouble, but it was the way which was most commonly understood in the
course of the last few years as the patent problem became ever more
severe.</p>
<p>However, there were also cases in recent years where people seemed to
want to use section 7 as a device of explosion -- an improvised
explosive device if you please -- inside the GPL. Some people seemed
to have come to the conclusion that merely by yelling "patent", or by
offering a license incompatible with GPL, that they could somehow
prevent GPL'd distribution of works. We knew that that was bogus, and
we thought that it was important to make it clear in this license. If
you impose conditions on yourself, or if conditions are imposed on
you, then this clause has effect. If you are threatened, or if
bloviation occurs in your neighbourhood, that has no effect, and we
hope it will continue to have no effect in the future.</p>
<h2 id="Closing-comments">6 Closing comments</h2>
<p>A year-long consultation is being held to spread awareness of the
proposed changes to GPLv3, and to solicit comments. This document was
produced as part of FSFE's efforts to assist this process. For more
information about FSFE's efforts, see:</p>
<p><a href="/activities/gplv3/">https://fsfe.org/activities/gplv3/</a></p>
<p>The official website of the GPLv3 process is:</p>
<p><a href="http://gplv3.fsf.org">http://gplv3.fsf.org</a></p>
<p>Free Software Foundation Europe e.V.<br />
Talstraße 110 <br />
40217 Düsseldorf <br />
Germany <br />
Phone: ++49 700 - 373387673 (++49 700 FSFEUROPE) <br />
European office e-mail: contact@fsfe.org</p>
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