Possible routes to kernel on GPLv3
Posted Feb 2, 2007 11:03 UTC (Fri) by sean.hunter
In reply to: Possible routes to kernel on GPLv3
Parent article: GPL 3: An Open-Source Earthquake? (CRN)
While it may or may not be possible theoretically to relicense the Linux kernel, what a lot of people have missed is that the developers would have to *want* to relicense and given that desire, they would have to feel like gpl3 was the one to go for. Neither of these are at all a given.
The kernel developers vary hugely in the extent to which they are interested in the FSF or its goals, but there is a substantial body of key developers who are not very interested in "Debian legal"-type issues and interested primarily in unimpeded cooperation in developing the kernel. For them, the GPL is a pragmatic choice that meets their needs and they choose it for that reason, rather than because they support the wider political and social agenda of the FSF. They just won't want to relicense because they're happy with gpl2 right now. Just like the Linux kernel never asked people to assign copyrights because the key people are happy for everyone to have copyright over the bits they wrote.
Notwithstanding that, if they all did decide that relicensing was worthwhile, the question then becomes "Which License?". Because if you go through the pain, why choose the gpl3 without considering the alternatives? For projects starting 10 years ago, the choice of free licenses boiled down pretty much just to BSD vs GPL. Now there are tons of licenses to choose from so gpl3 would need to be a compelling alternative to all the others.
The fact that the argument over which license to use would be so excruciating might in itself persuade some people not to consider relicensing even if they might otherwise have been in favour of it.
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