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20 April 2009, 11:15

Software Freedom Law Center calls for switch to GPLv3

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Bradley Kuhn of the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) recommends that projects using GPL version 2 upgrade to the newer GPL version 3. One of the features of GPLv3 is better protection against possible patent threats than its predecessor. The recent patent litigation between Microsoft and TomTom and subsequent out of court settlement is the reason for Kuhn's detailed posting, TomTom/Microsoft: A Wake-Up Call for GPLv3 Migration.

Because the exact wording of the agreement between Microsoft and TomTom is confidential, and unlikely to be disclosed, the conditions which TomTom agreed to are unclear. Therefore it is difficult to establish if the agreement runs contrary to section 7 of the GPLv2. The founder of the SFLC suggests that projects move to the GPLv3. With GPLv2 it is possible to have patent agreements where only two parties and the direct customers of those parties, are granted patent licences. In the GPLv3, there are two paragraphs which automatically grant patent licences to all recipients of the code, no matter what the source of the code, and that prevent discriminatory patent licences from being applied. This would prevent secret patent licence agreements that could not be checked for compliance with the GPL.


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