Linux Won’t Move to GPL 3

The father of Linux and copyright holder of the Linux name is not in
favor of the GPL 3.

Linus Torvalds has publicly posted his thoughts to the Linux Kernel
Mailing List (LKML) about the update to the GPL license, under which the Linux kernel itself is licensed.

His opposition to the new license may prove to be the death knell for widespread
acceptance of the GPL 3, as the Linux kernel is arguably among the most well
known and widely used GPL-licensed applications in existence.

Version 2 of the GPL doesn’t specifically require that a licensed
application automatically update itself when a new version becomes
available. Torvalds took aim at a commonly held notion that GPL version 2
can at the licensee’s option also be licensed under “any later version” of
the license.

“The ‘version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version’
language in the GPL copying file is not – and has never been – part of the
actual license itself,” Torvalds wrote.

“It’s part of the explanatory text
that talks about how to apply the license to your program, and it says that if you want to accept any later versions of the GPL, you can state so in
your source code. The Linux kernel has never stated that in general.

“If you want to license a program under any later version of the GPL,
you have to state so explicitly. Linux never did.”

GPL version 3 includes numerous new provisions, including those that
improve license compatibility and those that protect against patent and
digital rights management technologies.

In particular Torvalds does not agree with at least one proposed
provision of the new license. Section 6 of the proposed GPL version 3 is
titled, “Non-Source Distribution.”

In that section there is a graph that reads, “Distribution of the
Corresponding Source in accord with this section must be in a format that is
publicly documented, unencumbered by patents, and must require no special
password or key for unpacking, reading or copying.”

Torvalds responded: “I think it’s insane to require people to make their private signing keys
available, for example. I wouldn’t do it,” Torvalds wrote. “So I don’t think
the GPL v3 conversion is going to happen for the kernel, since I personally
don’t want to convert any of my code. Conversion isn’t going to happen.”

Torvalds’s statements contradict the generally favorable comments
from others in the open source community about GPL version 3.

The leader of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution has a mostly favorable view of the new license as do Novell, IBM and others.

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