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GPL 3: Analysis and Review Begins

The proverbial ink on the first draft of the GPL version 3 is barely dry and is already generating a flurry of discussion and review.

Internetnews.com solicited comments from some vendors about the new GPL version 3 , which is now available in draft . The overall response? Muted, with many taking a wait-and-see approach.

The potential impact of a new GPL, once it's approved, could impact countless applications offered by vendors of a wide range of IT products.

Robert Sutor, IBM vice president for standards and open source, told internetnews.com that it was too early for IBM to comment.

"We need to review it more thoroughly," Sutor said. "We're participating in one of the GPL v3 review committees, so we'll know more over the next few weeks."

A Microsoft spokesperson told internetnews.com that Microsoft had "no comment" on the new GPL draft. Microsoft itself has recently updated its own Shared Source licenses to three core licenses.

HP took a positive outlook on its initial feedback regarding the GPL 3 draft.

"HP is pleased with the direction taken in the initial discussion draft of the GPLv3, though a thorough review and analysis of the document's implications will require continued research on the part of HP in the coming weeks," said Christine Martino, VP of open source and Linux for HP.

Martino explained that HP's primary interest is in fostering excellent execution of an open process that will increase confidence in the GPL as a license and in the collaborative community from which the GPL is born.

"HP has not entered the process with an agenda to lobby for specific inclusions," Martino added.

Novell applauded the open process by which the GPL is being revised. In a statement emailed to internetnews.com, Greg Jones, associate general counsel for Novell, wrote: "by adopting an open process to address matters such as patent license grants and compatibility with other licenses, FSF is poised to produce an updated GPL that will further advance free software."

Google's Open Source Program Manager, Chris DiBona, likes what he sees, so far.

"Well, I was a little worried about the new version of the GPL," DiBona wrote in a blog post. "But so far it looks pretty good."

As vendors as developers ponder the actual text of the new GPL draft, they are also considering its potential impact on their own applications as well.

Mark Spencer, president of Digium and leader of the popular GPL-licensed Asterisk IP-PBX effort, said the patent and DRM provisions are the most noteworthy aspect of the draft, but they would not likely affect Asterisk substantially.

"I think the biggest challenge for us will be deciding whether to move Asterisk to GPLv3 or not and if so, when we would make the transition," Spencer told internetnews.com.

IBM's Sutor noted that GNU/Linux uses the GPL v2 and GNU/Linux has been a massive market success, literally changing the landscape of computing from the desktop to the enterprise.

"Because of this success, we and many others care whenever any aspect of that ecosystem evolves," Sutor said.

"We don't expect the changes to affect customer use of GPL-ed software."