RealTime IT News

Are You In Violation of GPL v3?

Though the final release of the open source GPL version 3 license is still likely several months away, software vendors are already ramping up their efforts to help track violations.

While the new license is intended to help extend and protect software freedom, there are at least two software vendors that are likely to profit from GPL version 3.

Both Black Duck Software and Palamida produce software that is used to identify potential license issues and both are claiming that they'll be ready whenever GPL version 3 is officially released.

"I think the growing awareness in the change for the most commonly used open source license represents an opportunity for us and anyone in our space," Palamida CEO Mark Tolliver told internetnews.com.

The new GPL version 3 license is the first update to the open source license in 15 years and introduces a number of new provisions for DRM (Digital Rights Management), patents and networked (Software as a Service) uses. The third draft of the GPL version 3 was released at the end of March with a final release expected later this year.

Black Duck Software has already announced that its ProtextIP software will be ready to handle GPL version 3.

"If users are looking at their code base and analyzing their code base they can compare it against multiple versions of GPL which are available through the knowledge base," Black Duck CEO Doug Levin told internetnews.com.

Don't expect ProtextIP to tell you if you've got patent or DRM violations though. The software isn't a substitute for doing due diligence. What Black Duck does is identify the code against a license so that companies can identify items in their code.

"We don't do code analysis and find patentable materials," Levin said. "However, what we do is scan code looking for open source and other types of code that would trigger an issue related to GPL 2 or 3 and identify sections that may be relevant."

When such issues are identified in the code, Black Duck's software highlights the section that would then lead the user to make a decision about use. The user would still be well advised to conduct a proper patent search and otherwise engage their legal counsel.

"We just flag license violations, attributions that are missing, code that is unidentified or we can associate with one project or another," Levin said.

Levin noted that Black Duck will be ready when GPL version 3 is actually finalized.

"As soon as the license is final we will add it to our knowledge base and customers will have it days after the availability of 3.0," Levin said.

Black Duck won't be alone in being ready for GPL version 3; rival Palamida will be ready, too. Palamida's Tolliver said that his firm already has three solutions capable of supporting the new license when it's released.

"Because of our advanced Groovy scripting, when the license is released within a week we'll be able to detect the language in the license and identify it, providing custom reports for our existing customers," Tolliver said. "When a new project is born containing GPL 3, we will find it"

Overall, the release of the new open source license will be a real boon for Palamida's business.

"GPL 3 will certainly force awareness of licensing issues to grow, tools like ours or others that can detect and report on licenses and incompatibilities will be a standard part of peoples' IP use and software development environment," Tolliver said.

"To operate without that in this world of increasingly complex licensing will be more difficult and more risky."