What does Europe have against GPLv3?

GPLv3 is about 3 times longer, is full of technical details, is complex (even for a lawyer) and as it is officially valid in English only it may not be the most persuasive license for a German or French administration.

My recent story on EUPL, the European Union Public License, drew some interesting reaction and this follow up question.

What does Europe have against GPLv3?

Roberto Galoppini, who first drew my attention to the issue, drew a response to his post from Patrice-Emmanuel Schmitz of Unisys, who helped draw up the new license. He wrote, in part:

GPLv3 is about 3 times longer, is full of technical details, is complex (even for a lawyer) and as it is officially valid in English only it may not be the most persuasive license for a German or French administration.

The EUPL, by contrast, is valid in 22 countries, and 22 languages. It's also compatible with the GPLv2 and Eclipse Public Licenses, among others. But not, so far, the GPLv3.

The trouble is that GPLv3 has proven popular. Its adoption rate was well ahead of projection when tracking was halted in the wake of economic trouble. Tracking is now moving ahead again and self-sponsored, writes Ernest Park, who manages it.

So let's say you're an earnest, honest, and scrupulous Polish software developer. You adopt the EUPL because you understand it but keep GPLv3 code in your repository. Then you write a great bit of code and put it online, under the EUPL.

The result, I believe my Polish great-grandmother would say, would be "klopotu." In Yiddish, tsuris. In English, trouble.

The problem Schmitz has with GPLv3 is that it's ideological. He doesn't like the preamble. But the GPLv3 preamble deals with software patents, which are illegal under European law.

Also, Schmitz feels, the GPLv3 contains specific terms and technical jargon. EUPL is not based on simple "principles" which local courts may interpret under their copyright laws.

That is sort of the point. The GPLv3 was developed following several legal disputes where lawyers sought to twist what the Free Software Foundation considered the GPLv2's idea of copyleft. GPLv3 dealt with this through specific language.

Schmitz writes that the Free Software Foundation "was unable to deal with linguistic diversity." It was also unable to deal with bureaucratic and legal mumbo-jumbo aimed at subverting the intent of the GPL's authors. Which the EUPL seems to encourage.

I'm not the only person who objects to what Schmitz is selling. Galoppini is also not amused:

What I object to [from] the EC is that you decided to go your way, instead of participating [in] the GPLv3 process, managed with a public and transparent consultation.

What I object to is your adversarial approach. I believe that opening to FSF licenses is your concern, since you are trying to convince European public administrations to use the EUPL.

Show them that is convenient, that they can still stand on the shoulders of giants, and try harder to consider GPL, and software licensed under the GPL, as your best friend, not a foe.

All I want is some help for my little Polish friend.

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