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HP Not Happy About Patents in GPL 3

The second draft of the GPL version 3 license is not even a day old and already one of the largest Linux vendors in the world is taking issue with its content.

"HP had hoped that the second draft would clarify the patent provision such as to ease concern that mere distribution of a single copy of GPL-licensed software might have significant adverse IP impact on a company," said Christine Martino, vice president of Open Source And Linux with HP, in a statement. "Unfortunately, the concern lingers in draft 2."

The first draft included some contentious terms surrounding DRM (Digital Rights Management) and Patents; those terms have softened a bit in the second draft. Apparently, not quite enough for HP.

GPL version 3 is the first attempt at revising the cornerstone Free Software license since version 2 was released in June of 1991. The first draft came out in January; the second draft came out yesterday.

HP did find something to like about DRM terms in the latest version, which no longer refers to DRM as Digital Restrictions Management. It also clarifies that DRM provision is only meant to prevent DRM users from disallowing people from modifying or sharing GPL version 3 licensed software.

"Although our analysis of the implications is not yet complete, HP is pleased to see that much of the confusion about the DRM aspects should be eliminated by the clarifications in draft 2," Martino said.

HP's comments are actually ahead of the official period for the second draft.

"We will follow the same commenting procedure, with the comment period opening shortly after everyone has had a chance to digest the changes from the previous round," the Free Software Foundation's GPL v 3 Website said. "We look forward to your continued participation."

The FSF said the latest draft reflects nearly a thousand suggestions since the prior version.

For its part, HP said it remains committed to the open process defined by the FSF and hopes to address any continuing concerns through the iterative process.

Although HP was quick to provide comments on the second draft, other vendors involved in the GPL version 3 process are holding off. For example, a spokesperson for Linux vendor Trolltech said the company wants to be cautious about speaking out of turn and that the FSF's Forums are the appropriate place for comment.