GPL "v2 or later" may prevent merging back modifications? in practice, probably not
Posted Oct 2, 2006 6:40 UTC (Mon) by stevenj
In reply to: GPL "v2 or later" may prevent merging back modifications? in practice, probably not
Parent article: Busy busy busybox
unfortunantly, for many people these actions are prooving their worst fears about the 'or later' clause to be true
These are their "worst fears?" *Yawn, hyperbole alert.* If they used "v2 or later" and the developers don't like the final version of GPLv3, they can always stick with v2's terms. Yes, hypothetically people could fork a v3 version of your code, but FUD about forking of FLOSS projects has almost always been proven false, regardless of license (whether GPL or BSD or LGPL), and the few exceptional cases (e.g. X11) were usually for good reason and ended up being applauded by the community. If the main developers of a project agree with one another, then no fork will survive; and if the main developers have basic philosophical differences then the project has problems regardless of license.
And anyway, forking of v2-only and v3-only projects could happen regardless of whether the changes in v3 were big or small, and regardless of whether you agree with them. There's nothing the FSF could have done to prevent this, except for not updating the GPL at all. (Except in a fantasy world where every developer on the planet likes v3 better than v2, which would never happen regardless of what v3 changed.)
In any case, considering that the FSF's changes are totally in line with what they have always said the goals of the GPL are (ensuring the user's right to modify, run, and redistribute the programs they receive), saying it's not "in the same spirit" seems tenuous. If you lose trust in the FSF because they stick to their stated ideals in the face of technical countermeasures (DRM and patents), then you haven't been paying attention for the past 20 years.
(I can easily come up with much worse fears. e.g. that GPLv3 == X11, which would open up all past "v2 or later" code to closed-source exploitation. This would be a true abandonment of the spirit of the license.)
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