[Fsf-friends] The last GPL?

Ramanraj K ramanraj.k@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Sat Jun 9 06:44:06 IST 2007

The last call draft of the GPLv3 is at:

It is fairly easy for most licensees to comply with the terms and
conditions in the General Public License, Version 2.0,  whether they
are users, developers or distributors.  The few GPL violations I have
heard of generally relate to the copyleft clause where the violators
most probably fully deserved to be prosecuted as they failed to make
their modifications public.

On the contrary, the scary thing about the proposed GPL is that users,
developers or distributors could be hauled up for not so obvious
trademark violations.  Trademarks are just proprietary shit - you
would not want to touch them.  Free software has nothing much to do
with  trademarks, warranties, income tax, sales tax/vat, central
excise, and a lot of other things, which may be attracted in various
jurisdictions under various circumstances, but do not concern us at

Free software packages need and could use only non-proprietary generic
names for identification, and inviting people to use trademarks for
identifying the package itself is needles and only promotes the
proprietary culture.  Worse, it could easily be used to defeat
copyleft freedom.  Clause 7 makes room for  clauses, which could be
used to force you to use or not use alleged trademarks, and police
modifications.  The clause  has the potential to cause distension in
the free software community  and the greatest danger is that it would
make the GPL irrelevant in the free software community.

TRIPs was negotiated in 1994, much after GPLv2 was published in 1991.
After TRIPs, computer programs may be protected only as literary
works, and misapplication of patent law to computer programs deserves
to be challenged if any of the signatories to TRIPs continue its
practice.  It is mostly the proprietary software companies that
support the illegal practice of "software patents", and any clause in
the GPL now, as though "Software Patents" are legitimate, would only
operate as estoppel against authors who wish to question the practice
in the US, discouraging the use of the GPL.  "Software patents" are an
illegitimate practice and clauses based on such a practice could only
be seen as opposed to public policy.

Today, free software is moving from strength to strength, but the
question would be if the GPL can continue to hold its influence in the
free software community.

Ramanraj K

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