GPL 3 plans unveiled

An updated version of the free software license will be completed in less than 18 months, and may tackle problems such as DRM, software patents and internationalisation
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor

The Free Software Foundation has revealed the timeline for the creation of the next version of the GPL, the most widely used free software license.

The first draft of GPL 3 will be published at a conference that is taking place on 16 and 17 January 2006, the FSF said on Wednesday. Second and third drafts of the license are expected to be released later the same year, in the summer and autumn respectively. The final GPL 3 licence will be released by spring 2007.

The free software community will be encouraged to give its feedback on each draft version of the license. The FSF has also released a document that specifies the process and guidelines for revising the GPL.

The current GPL, version 2, is being updated to take into account the changes in the software industry since it was released in 1991.

"It will address new forms of use and current global requirements for commercial and non-commercial users," said Richard Stallman, the founder of the FSF, in a statement on GPL 3.

There has already been some discussion around what changes may be included. It is expected to offer improved compatibility with other free software licences and improved internationalisation.

Other possibilities include an anti-DRM clause, a patent retaliation clause and a clause to force Web companies to publish the source code of any GPL-licensed software that they are using for commercial services.

More information on the GPL 3 development process can be found here.

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