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\def\mytitle{ GPLv3 First Discussion Draft Rationale }




\date{January 16, 2006}






In fifteen years of use, version 2 of the GNU General Public License
has succeeded beyond our expectations.  It has nurtured a spirit of
cooperation and trust that has enabled a worldwide community of
user/developers to release an extraordinary range of free software.
The underlying principle of respect for users' right to cooperate has
spread beyond the field of software, to inspire other creative and
scientific endeavors.

The success of the GPL is due to its fundamental design principle: the
protection of users' freedom to work individually or together to make
software do what they wish.  To carry the GPL into the future, we
have undertaken to adapt the license to uphold this principle through
the opportunities and menaces of today's technological and legal

The core legal mechanism of the GNU GPL is that of copyleft, which
requires modified versions of GPL'd software to be GPL'd themselves.
Copyleft is essential for preventing the enclosure of the free
software commons, today as it was in 1991.  But today's environment
is more complex and diverse; thus, a fully effective copyleft
calls for additional legal measures.  Devising these measures is
complicated by another aspect of our success: the worldwide adoption
of free software principles. We hope and expect that contributors to
version 3 of the GPL will come from all over the globe, and from every
developer, distributor, and user constituency.

\section{Do No Harm}

Through our years of work on this revision of the GNU GPL, we have
remained committed to preserving the established freedoms on which
free software users depend.  We have also done our utmost to avoid
unintentional consequences that would harm these freedoms.  While we
are confident that our draft, if adopted, will have no unforeseen
consequences that would be deleterious to freedom, we must be certain
that this will be so.  Making sure of this is one primary reason for
the public comment process.

To illustrate what this principle implies, consider the treatment of
software designed for public use on network servers.  Given the
variety of needs and concerns in this area, in which different parties
have disparate and strongly-held positions, we have chosen not to add
requirements about public use of modified versions in the GPL itself.
Instead we have made a variety of possible license requirements
compatible with the GPL, through an enhanced compatibility provision;
thus we leave individual developers scope for choosing among 
requirements to apply for public use of their code.  We have
intentionally done nothing that might threaten to divide free software
developers from free software users.

 \section{Technological Changes and Legal Threats to \\ Freedom}

Computer technology has changed since 1991, but these changes are not
primarily what has motivated us to revise the GPL.  The concern of the
GPL is not the particulars of technology but the maintenance of users'
freedoms.  To be sure, technological developments of the past fifteen
years have enabled new freedoms and have resulted in new threats to
freedom.  No fundamental change in computer technology has occurred that
requires a radical change to our license, however.

It is changes in law, not computer technology, that pose the principal
challenges to the free software community.  Chief among these changes
has been the unwise and ill-considered application of patent law to
software.  Software patents threaten every free software project, just
as they threaten proprietary software and custom software.  Any
program can be destroyed or crippled by a software patent belonging to
someone who has no other connection to the program.

We were among the few to recognize the gravity of the software patent
problem in 1991. At that time, however, the problem seemed to be
confined to one country, the United States.  Today the situation is very
different. Most countries have followed the direction of the United
States, permitting software to be patented to at least some degree.
This worldwide shift in patent law has brought about immense harm and
injustice.  In 1991 GPLv2 was unique in raising a defense against the
problem of software patents, in its section 7.  It is indicative of the
scale of this problem that, by the end of the decade, commentators were
criticizing the GPL for doing too little to combat patents.

A program's own license cannot protect it from the threat of software
patents.  The only real solution to the problem of software patents is
to abolish them.  However, we can protect against attempts by some
participants in a program's development to use patents against other
participants.  GPLv3 provides an explicit patent license covering any
patents held by the program's developers, replacing the implicit
license on which GPLv2 relies.  GPLv3 also implements a narrow scheme
of patent retaliation against those who undertake this precise form of

Our draft of GPLv3 makes clear that we do not entirely share the current
enthusiasm of others in the free software community for including broad
forms of patent retaliation in licenses.  Theorists of patent
retaliation have, in our view, overestimated the deterrent value of
denying access to free software.  In this area, we have chosen instead
to follow our general guidelines of limiting freedom only where
demonstrably necessary to protect freedom, and of doing no more in
granting permissions than permissions can be expected to accomplish.

Technology that restricts users' traditional rights in copyrighted
works, often known as Digital Restrictions Management or Digital Rights
Management (DRM), is another threat to free software.  As a campaign to
limit users' rights, the adoption of DRM is fundamentally at odds with
the spirit of the free software movement.  Unfree software implementing
DRM technology is simply a prison in which users can be put to deprive
them of the rights that the law would otherwise allow them.  Our aim is,
and must be, the abolition of DRM as a social practice.  Anything less
than complete victory leaves the freedom of software in grave peril.

Free software is software that respects the user's essential freedoms;
the adoption of free software is a step forward because it means the
spread of freedom.  Even as companies imposing DRM prohibit access to
digitally restricted data by free users, they often seek to transform
free software into tools of user restriction.  We must not tolerate this
assault on users' freedom merely because the software used for this
assault is a version of our own.

Someday, we hope, copyright law's traditional respect for individual
user rights will be restored, and user-disabling DRM will no longer be
permitted.  In the meantime, we have designed GPLv3 to forbid such
perversion of free software.

Another challenge facing the free software community is the
proliferation of incompatible free software licenses.  Of course, we
cannot make the GPL compatible with all such licenses.  GPLv3 contains
provisions that are designed to reduce license incompatibility by making
it easier for developers to combine code carrying non-GPL terms with
GPL'd code.  

We hope to encourage more free software developers to use the GPL when
licensing their software, and, more generally, we are determined to
convince more developers of the merits of copyleft.  The proponents of
fully permissive, non-copyleft licenses have, in effect, argued in favor
of sacrificing the preservation and extension of user freedom in order
to facilitate the short-term commercialization of software. Our position
has always been that software built in freedom might easily be rendered
non-free if governed by such arrangements.  Developments in the years
since 1991 have only strengthened this view.

Although the concerns of business have never been our main priority,
we do make one observation on this subject.  For us, there has never
been any inconsistency between protecting users' freedom and enabling
the commercial use of software.  Whatever doubts may have existed in
1991, we have shown since then that a copyleft license, a license
designed for durable protection of user freedom, can form the basis of
a larger set of commercially useful software than any non-copyleft
free software license has ever produced.  Although business concerns
are secondary to freedom, it is important that the GNU GPL enable
business to succeed while respecting freedom, and we do not intend to
interfere with the synergy between them.

\section{Design Goals}

The GPL operates by granting permission beyond what copyright law itself
requires. As a copyleft license, the GPL's primary goal is to defend a
set of core freedoms for all software users.  For this reason, the GPL
places some requirements on the licensee, but only to the extent
necessary to prevent some users from denying freedom to others.  In a
few parts of the revised license, we have reacted to alarming
developments by adding certain new requirements, as in our section on
DRM.  These requirements are narrowly drawn and are directed at
preventing the mechanism of freedom from being turned against itself.

We recognize that, overall, the changes made in GPLv3 have increased
the complexity of the license.  We would have liked to oblige those
who have asked us for a simpler and shorter GPL, but we had to give
priority to making GPLv3 do the job that needs to be done.  We
appreciate simplicity in licenses, but simplicity must not be allowed
to interfere with the goal of protecting users' freedom.  We
enthusiastically invite those who believe that the GPL can protect
freedom just as well in fewer words to join our comment process and
show us how this can be done.

\chapter{Section-by-Section Discussion of Changes}
Table of Corresponding Sections \\
GPLv2 & GPLv3 \\
\cline{1-1} \cline{2-2} \\
0 & 0, 2 \\
1 & 4 \\
2 & 5 \\                
3 & 1, 7 \\
4 & 8 \\
5 & 9 \\
6 & 10 \\
7 & 12 \\
8 & [13] \\
9 & 14 \\
10 & 15 \\
11 & 16 \\
12 & 17 \\


\section{0.  Definitions}

Section 0 includes definitions of two new terms: ``covered work'' and
``propagate.''  The use of the term ``covered work'' enables some of the
wording in the revised GPL to be simpler and clearer.

The term ``propagate'' serves two purposes.  First, ``propagate'' provides
a simple and convenient means for distinguishing between the kinds of
uses of a work that the GPL imposes conditions on and the kinds of
uses that the GPL does not (for the most part) impose conditions

Second, ``propagate'' furthers our goal of making the license as
global as possible in its wording and effect. When a work is licensed
under the GPL, the copyright law of some particular country will
govern certain legal issues arising under the license. A term like
``distribute,'' or its equivalent in languages other than English, is
used in several national copyright statutes.  The scope of
``distribution'' in the copyright context can differ from country to
country. We do not wish to force on the GPL the specific meaning of
``distribution'' that exists under United States copyright law or any
other country's copyright law.

We therefore define the term ``propagate'' by reference to activities
that require permission under ``applicable copyright law,'' but we
exclude execution and private modification from the definition. Our
definition gives examples of activities that may be included within
``propagation,'' but it also makes clear that, under the copyright laws
of a given country, ``propagation'' may include other activities as well.

Section 0 also clarifies that modification of a work includes
extending the work, such as by adding text to the work.  This
was implicit in GPLv2.

\section{1.  Source Code}

Section 1 retains GPLv2's definition of ``source code'' and adds an
explicit definition of ``object code'' as ``any non-source version of a
work.''  Object code is not restricted to a narrow technical meaning and
is to be understood broadly as including any form of the work other than
the preferred form for making modifications to it.  Object code
therefore includes any kind of transformed version of source code, such
as bytecode.  The definition of object code also ensures that licensees
cannot escape their obligations under the GPL by resorting to shrouded
source or obfuscated programming.

The definition of ``Complete Corresponding Source Code'' given in the
second paragraph of section 1 is as broad as necessary to protect users'
exercise of their rights under the GPL. We follow the definition with
particular examples to remove any doubt that they are to be considered
Complete Corresponding Source Code. We wish to make completely clear
that a licensee cannot avoid complying with the requirements of the GPL
by dynamically linking an add-on component to the original version of a

Though the definition of Complete Corresponding Source Code in the
second paragraph of section 1 is expansive, it is not sufficient to
protect users' freedoms in many circumstances.  For example, a GPL'd
program, or a modified version of such a program, might need to be
signed with a key or authorized with a code in order for it to run on
a particular machine and function properly. Similarly, a program that
produces digitally-restricted files might require a decryption code in
order to read the output.  

The third paragraph of section 1 addresses this problem by making
clear that Complete Corresponding Source Code includes any such
encryption, authorization, and decryption codes. By requiring the
inclusion of this information whenever the GPL requires distribution
of Complete Corresponding Source Code, we thwart efforts to obstruct
the goals of the GPL, and we ensure that users will remain in control
over their own machines.  We recognize an exception where use of the
program normally implies that the user already has the codes.  For
example, in secure systems a computer owner might possess any keys
needed to run a program, while the distributor of the program might
not have the keys.

The final paragraph of section 1 revises the exception to the source
code distribution requirement in GPLv2 that we have sometimes called
the system library exception.  This exception has been read to
prohibit certain distribution arrangements that we consider reasonable
and have not sought to prevent, such as distribution of gcc linked
with a non-free C library that is included as part of a larger
non-free system.  This is not to say that such non-free libraries are
legitimate; rather, preventing free software from linking with these
libraries would hurt free software more than it would hurt proprietary

As revised, the exception has two parts. Part (a) rewords the GPLv2
exception for clarity but also removes the words ``unless that
component itself accompanies the executable.''  By itself, (a) would
be too permissive, allowing distributors to evade their
responsibilities under the GPL.  We have therefore added part (b) to
specify when a system library that is an adjunct of a major essential
operating system component, compiler, or interpreter does not trigger
the requirement to distribute source code.  The more low-level the
functionality provided by the library, the more likely it is to be
qualified for this exception.

\section{2.  Basic Permissions}

We have included the first sentence of section 2 to further
internationalize the GPL. Under the copyright laws of some countries,
it may be necessary for a copyright license to include an explicit
provision setting forth the duration of the rights being granted.  In
other countries, including the United States, such a provision is
unnecessary but permissible.

The first paragraph of section 2 also acknowledges that licensees
under the GPL enjoy rights of copyright fair use, or the
equivalent under applicable law.  These rights are compatible with,
and not in conflict with, the freedoms that the GPL seeks to protect,
and the GPL cannot and should not restrict them.

Section 2 distinguishes between activities of a licensee that are
permitted without limitation and activities that trigger additional
requirements.  The second paragraph of section 2 guarantees the basic
freedoms of privately modifying and running the program. However, the
right to privately modify and run the program is terminated if the
licensee brings a patent infringement lawsuit against anyone for
activities relating to a work based on the program. 

This narrowly-targeted patent retaliation provision is the only form
of patent retaliation that GPLv3 imposes by its own force.  We believe
that it strikes a proper balance between preserving the freedom of a
user to run and modify a program, and protecting the rights of other
users to run, modify, copy, and distribute code free from threats by
patent holders.  It is particularly intended to discourage a GPL
licensee from securing a patent directed to unreleased modifications
of GPL'd code and then suing the original developers or others for making
their own equivalent modifications.

Several other free software licenses include significantly broader
patent retaliation provisions.  In our view, too little is known about
the consequences of these forms of patent retaliation. As we explain
below, section 7 permits distribution of a GPL'd work that includes
added parts covered by terms other than those of the GPL.  Such terms
may include certain kinds of patent retaliation provisions that are
broader than those of section 2.

The third paragraph of section 2 represents another effort to
compensate for variation in national copyright law.  We distinguish
between propagation that enables parties other than the licensee to
make or receive copies, and other forms of propagation.  As noted
above, the meaning of ``distribution'' under copyright law varies from
country to country, including with respect to whether making copies
available to other parties (such as related public or corporate
entities) is ``distribution.'' ``Propagation,'' however, is a term not
tied to any statutory language.  Propagation that does not enable
other parties to make or receive copies --- for example, making
private copies or privately viewing the program --- is permitted
unconditionally.  Propagation that does enable other parties to make
or receive copies is permitted as ``distribution,'' subject to the
conditions set forth in sections 4--6.
\section{3.  Digital Restrictions Management}

DRM is fundamentally in conflict with the freedoms of users that the
GPL is designed to safeguard, but our ability to oppose DRM by means
of free software licenses is limited.  In section 3 we provide developers
with some forms of leverage that they can use against DRM.  The first
paragraph essentially directs courts to interpret the GPL in light of
a policy of discouraging and impeding DRM and other technical
restrictions on users' freedoms and illegal invasions of users'
privacy.  This provides copyright holders and other GPL licensors with
means to take action against activities contrary to users' freedom, if
governments fail to act.

The second paragraph of section 3 declares that no GPL'd program is
part of an effective technological protection measure, regardless of
what the program does.  Ill-advised legislation in the United States
and other countries has prohibited circumvention of such 
technological measures.  If a covered work is distributed as part of a
system for generating or accessing certain data, the effect of this
paragraph is to prevent someone from claiming that some other GPL'd
program that accesses the same data is an illegal circumvention. 

\section{4.  Verbatim Copying}

Section 4 has been revised from its corresponding section in GPLv2 in
light of the new section 7 on license compatibility.  A distributor of
verbatim copies of the program's source code must obey any existing
additional terms that apply to parts of the program.  In addition, the
distributor is required to keep intact all license notices, including
notices of such additional terms.

\section{5.  Distributing Modified Source Versions}

Section 5 contains a number of changes relative to the corresponding
section in GPLv2.  Subsection 5a slightly relaxes the requirements
regarding notice of changes to the program.  In particular, the
modified files themselves need no longer be marked.  This reduces
administrative burdens for developers of modified versions of GPL'd

Under subsection 5a, as in the corresponding provision of GPLv2, the
notices must state ``the date of any change,'' which we interpret to
mean the date of one or more of the licensee's changes.  The best
practice would be to include the date of the latest change.  However,
in order to avoid requiring revision of programs distributed under
``GPL version 2 or later,'' we have retained the existing wording.

Subsection 5b is the central copyleft provision of the license.  It
now states that the GPL applies to the whole of the work.  The license
must be unmodified, except as permitted by section 7, which allows
GPL'd code to be combined with parts covered by certain other kinds of
free software licensing terms. Another change in subsection 5b is the
removal of the words ``at no charge,'' which was often misinterpreted
by commentators.  The last sentence of subsection 5b explicitly
recognizes the validity of disjunctive dual-licensing.

Subsection 5c generalizes the requirements in subsection 2c of GPLv2
to apply to various kinds of interactive user interfaces.  The new
text distinguishes between interfaces that present a list of user
commands or options, such as a menu, and those that do not.  For the
first class of interfaces, the list must include a command to
display the copyright notice and other information required by the
first sentence of subsection 5c.  For the second class of interfaces,
which include command-line interfaces, voice-activated interfaces, and
so on, the conditions are essentially the same as in GPLv2:  the
modified program must display the information at startup, unless the
modification was to an interactive program that did not display such
information at startup.  The displayed information must include the
central list of non-GPL terms applicable to added parts, as required
by section 7. 

The paragraph following subsection 5c has been revised for clarity,
but the underlying meaning is unchanged.  When independent
non-derivative sections are distributed for use in a combination that
is a covered work, the whole of the combination must be licensed under
the GPL, regardless of the form in which such combination occurs,
including combination by dynamic linking.  The final sentence of the
paragraph adapts this requirement to the new compatibility provisions
of section 7.

The final paragraph of section 5 revises the ``mere aggregation''
exception of GPLv2.  We expect that the revised wording will eliminate
any uncertainty regarding the meaning of this provision.  In particular,
this provision makes clear that certain abuses involving the use of
compilation copyrights are not allowed. 

\section{6.  Non-Source Distribution}

Section 6 of GPLv3, which clarifies and revises GPLv2 section 3,
requires distributors of GPL'd object code to provide access to the
corresponding source code, in one of four specified ways. As noted
above, ``object code'' in GPLv3 is defined broadly to mean any
non-source version of a work.

Subsections 6a and 6b now apply specifically to distribution of object
code in a physical product.  Physical products include embedded
systems, as well as physical software distribution media such as CDs.
As in GPLv2, the distribution of object code may either be accompanied
by the machine-readable source code, or it may be accompanied by a
written offer to provide the machine-readable source code to any third
party.  GPLv3 clarifies that the medium for software interchange on
which the machine-readable source code is provided must be a durable
physical medium.  Subsection 6b does not prevent a distributor from
offering to provide source code to a third party by some other means,
such as transmission over a network, so long as the option of
obtaining source code on a physical medium is presented.

Subsection 6b revises the requirements for the written offer to
provide source code.  As before, the offer must remain valid for at
least three years.  In addition, even after three years, a distributor
of a product containing GPL'd object code must offer to provide source
code for as long as the distributor also continues to offer spare
parts or customer support for the product model.  We believe that this
is a reasonable and appropriate requirement; a distributor should be
prepared to provide source code if he or she is prepared to provide
support for other aspects of a physical product.  

Subsection 6b also increases the maximum permitted price for providing a
copy of the source code.  GPLv2 stated that the price could be no more
than the cost of physically performing source distribution; GPLv3 allows
the price to be up to ten times the distributor's cost.  It may not be
practical to expect some organizations to provide such copies at cost.
Moreover, permitting such organizations to charge ten times the cost is
not particularly harmful, since some recipient of the code can be
expected to make the code freely available on a public network server.
We also recognize that there is nothing wrong with profiting from
providing copies of source code, provided that the price of a copy is
not so unreasonably high as to make it effectively unavailable.

Subsection 6c gives narrower permission than the corresponding
subsection in GPLv2.  The option of including a copy of an offer
received in accordance with subsection 6b is available only for
private distribution of object code; moreover, such private
distribution is restricted to ``occasional non-commercial
distribution.''  This subsection makes clear that a distributor cannot
comply with the GPL merely by making object code available on a
publicly-accessible network server accompanied by a copy of the
written offer to provide source code received from an upstream

New subsection 6d, which revises the final paragraph of GPLv2 section
3, addresses distribution of object code by offering access to copy
the code from a designated place, such as by enabling electronic
access to a network server.  Subsection 6d clarifies that the
distributor must offer equivalent access to copy the source code ``in
the same way through the same place.''  This wording permits a
distributor to offer a third party access to both object code and
source code on a single network portal or web page, even though the
access may include links to different physical servers.  For example,
a downstream distributor may provide a link to an upstream
distributor's server and arrange with the operator of that server to
keep the source code available for copying for as long as the
downstream distributor enables access to the object code.  This
codifies what has been our interpretation of GPLv2.

The paragraph following subsection 6d expressly prevents a distributor of
object code from purporting to satisfy his or her obligations under
the GPL by providing source code in some private, locked,
digitally-restricted, or other non-free form.

The final paragraph of section 6 takes account of the fact that the
Complete Corresponding Source Code may include added parts that carry
non-GPL terms, as permitted by section 7.

\section{7.  License Compatibility}

In GPLv3 we take a new approach to the issue of combining GPL'd code
with code governed by the terms of other free software licenses.  Our
view, though it was not explicitly stated in GPLv2 itself, was that
GPLv2 allowed such combinations only if the non-GPL licensing terms
permitted distribution under the GPL and imposed no restrictions on
the code that were not also imposed by the GPL.  In practice, we
supplemented this policy with a structure of exceptions for certain
kinds of combinations.
Section 7 of GPLv3 implements a more explicit policy on license
compatibility.  It formalizes the circumstances under which a licensee
may release a covered work that includes an added part carrying
non-GPL terms.  We distinguish between terms that provide additional
permissions, and terms that place additional requirements on the code,
relative to the permissions and requirements established by applying
the GPL to the code.
Section 7 first explicitly allows added parts covered by terms with
additional permissions to be combined with GPL'd code.  This codifies
our existing practice of regarding such licensing terms as compatible
with the GPL.  A downstream user of a combined GPL'd work who modifies
such an added part may remove the additional permissions, in which
case the broader permissions no longer apply to the modified version,
and only the terms of the GPL apply to it.
In its treatment of terms that impose additional requirements, section 7
extends the range of licensing terms with which the GPL is compatible.
An added part carrying additional requirements may be combined with
GPL'd code, but only if those requirements belong to an set enumerated
in section 7.  We must, of course, place some limit on the kinds of
additional requirements that we will accept, to ensure that enhanced
license compatibility does not defeat the broader freedoms advanced by
the GPL.  Unlike terms that grant additional permissions, terms that
impose additional requirements cannot be removed by a downstream user of
the combined GPL'd work, because no such user would have the right to do

Under subsections 7a and 7b, the requirements may include preservation
of copyright notices, information about the origins of the code or
alterations of the code, and different warranty disclaimers.  Under
subsection 7c, the requirements may include limitations on the use of
names of contributors and on the use of trademarks for publicity
purposes.  In general, we permit these requirements in added terms
because many free software licenses include them and we consider them to
be unobjectionable.  Because we support trademark fair use, the
limitations on the use of trademarks may seek to enforce only what is
required by trademark law, and may not prohibit what would constitute
fair use.

Under subsection 7d, the added part may require the program to contain
functioning facilities that allow users to obtain copies of the
program's Complete Corresponding Source Code.  This is intended to
enable compatibility with licensing terms that, for example, require
modified versions of a program that interacts with users through a
network to preserve an opportunity for users to request network
transmission of the source code. 

Subsection 7e permits the additional requirements to include a software
patent retaliation provision that may be broader than the narrow patent
retaliation clause in section 2 of GPLv3.  However, the retaliation is
specifically limited to retaliation against one of two types of software
patent infringement lawsuits: (1) lawsuits that constitute aggression
because they are not brought in retaliation against software patent
aggression, and (2) lawsuits that target the GPL'd code or the added

We have placed these limits on acceptable patent retaliation provisions
for a number of reasons.  We reject overbroad patent retaliation
provisions that give undue advantage to the program's author.  We also
do not support overbroad patent retaliation provisions that would impose
burdensome patent searching requirements on users.  Furthermore, a
patent retaliation provision ought not to punish those who have brought
a patent infringement claim in defense against an act of patent
Section 7 notes that the GPL does not provide for enforcement of terms
imposing additional requirements.  Rather, section 7 simply
establishes that a combination of code covered by such terms with
GPL'd code does not violate the GPL.  One reason why we do not seek to
enforce such terms is that they are not written by us.  In addition, we
seek to encourage experimentation with different licensing terms, and
therefore we do not wish to commit ourselves to any particular form of
the additional requirements we permit under section 7.

Section 7 requires a downstream user of a covered work to preserve the
non-GPL terms covering the added parts just as they must preserve the
GPL, as long as any substantial portion of those parts is present in
the user's version.

As we permit combinations of code covered by different licensing
terms, we also aim to ensure that determining what terms apply to a
particular section of code does not become a burdensome task for the
developer.  Section 7 accordingly requires that all non-GPL terms
included in a combined GPL'd work be listed in a central place in the

However, as a special exception, this list is not required for works
that are licensed under a previous version of the GPL in addition to
GPLv3.  We include this exception so that a distributor of a work
licensed under GPLv2 ``or any later version'' that includes code
carrying non-GPL licensing terms will not be in violation of GPLv3
merely by failing to provide the list.

\section{8.  Termination}

GPLv2 provided for automatic termination of the rights of a person who
copied, modified, sublicensed, or distributed a work in violation of
the license.  Automatic termination can be too harsh for those who
have committed an inadvertent violation, particularly in cases
involving distribution of large collections of software having
numerous copyright holders.  A violator who resumes compliance with
GPLv2 would need to obtain forgiveness from all copyright holders, but
even to contact them all might be impossible.

Section 8 of GPLv3 replaces automatic termination with a non-automatic
termination process.  Any copyright holder for the licensed work may
opt to terminate the rights of a violator of the license, provided
that the copyright holder has first given notice of the violation
within 60 days of its most recent occurrence.  A violator who has been
given notice may make efforts to enter into compliance and may request
that the copyright holder agree not exercise the right of termination;
the copyright holder may choose to grant or refuse this request.

If a licensee who is in violation of GPLv3 acts to correct the
violation and enter into compliance, and the licensee receives no notice
of the past violation within 60 days, then the licensee need not worry
about termination of rights under the license. 

\section{9.  Not a Contract}

Section 9 revises the corresponding section in GPLv2 in various ways
to make the provision clearer.  

\section{10.  Automatic Licensing of Downstream Users}

Section 10 includes changes that provide consistency with new section

\section{11.  Licensing of Patents}
GPLv3 adds a new section on licensing of patents.  GPLv2 relies on an
implied patent license.  The doctrine of implied license is one that
is recognized under United States patent law but may not be recognized
in other jurisdictions.  We have therefore decided to make the patent
license grant explicit in GPLv3.  Under section 11, a redistributor of
a GPL'd work automatically grants a nonexclusive, royalty-free and
worldwide license for any patent claims held by the redistributor, if
those claims would be infringed by the work or a reasonably
contemplated use of the work.  

The patent license is granted both to recipients of the redistributed
work and to any other users who have received any version of the work.
Section 11 therefore ensures that downstream users of GPL'd code and
works derived from GPL'd code are protected from the threat of patent
infringement allegations made by upstream distributors, regardless of
which country's laws are held to apply to any particular aspect of the
distribution or licensing of the GPL'd code.

A redistributor of GPL'd code may benefit from a patent license that
has been granted by a third party, where the third party otherwise
could bring a patent infringement lawsuit against the redistributor
based on the distribution or other use of the code.  In such a case,
downstream users of the redistributed code generally remain vulnerable
to the applicable patent claims of the third party.  This threatens to
defeat the purposes of the GPL, for the third party could prevent any
downstream users from exercising the freedoms that the license seeks
to guarantee.

The second paragraph of section 11 addresses this problem by requiring
the redistributor to act to shield downstream users from these patent
claims.  The requirement applies only to those redistributors who
distribute knowingly relying on a patent license.  Many companies
enter into blanket patent cross-licensing agreements.  With respect to
some such agreements, it would not be reasonable to expect a company
to know that a particular patent license covered by the agreement, but
not specifically mentioned in it, protects the company's distribution
of GPL'd code.

\section{12.  Liberty or Death for the Program}

The wording in the first sentence of section 12 has been revised
slightly to clarify that an agreement, such as a litigation settlement
agreement or a patent license agreement, is one of the ways in which
conditions may be ``imposed'' on a GPL licensee that may contradict the
conditions of the GPL, but which do not excuse the licensee from
compliance with those conditions.  This change codifies what has been
our interpretation of GPLv2.  

We have removed the limited severability clause of GPLv2 section 7
as a matter of tactical judgment, believing that this is the best way
to ensure that all provisions of the GPL will be upheld in court.  We
have also removed the final sentence of GPLv2 section 7, which we
consider to be unnecessary.

\section{[13.  Geographical Limitations]}

To our knowledge, no one has invoked this section to add an
explicit geographical distribution limitation since GPLv2 was released
in 1991.  We have concluded that this provision is not needed and is
not expected to be needed in the future, and that it therefore should
be removed.  However, we invite members of the community who believe
that this provision should be retained to provide us with their views.

\section{14.  Revised Versions of this License}

No substantive change has been made in section 14.  The wording of the
section has been revised slightly to make it clearer.

\section{15.  Requesting Exceptions}

No change has been made in section 15. 

\section{16--17.  No Warranty}

No substantive changes have been made in sections 16 and 17.  

\section{18.  Safety Critical Systems}

In safety-critical settings, software that does not perform correctly
may expose developers to potentially high liability for damages.  Some
non-free licenses address this problem by prohibiting software from
being used in safety-critical applications, a solution that is not
appropriate for a free software license.  New section 18 instead
protects developers from liability by making clear that, by default,
GPL'd software has not been tested for use in safety-critical systems.
Users remain free to run and modify the software for any purpose.


Our goal is for the GPLv3 public discussion process to be as transparent
and accessible as possible.  We look forward to receiving many
informative and helpful comments on the draft of GPLv3 from all relevant
viewpoints across the free software community.  Mindful of the likely
volume of comments, we have built a web-based interface for entering
comments designed to anchor each submitted comment firmly to the
discussion draft. We ask those who comment to keep in mind that we are
engaged in the specialized work of drafting a license, rather than a
more general exploration of philosophy and purpose.

As we explained in the GPL3 Process Definition document, available at
\url{}, we are forming
discussion committees whose task will be to identify issues based on the
public comments we receive.  Final decisions on all issues will be made,
accompanied by full reasons given by the Free Software Foundation.

In 1991 we released GPLv2 to apply it to our own software, and in the
hope that other developers might wish to apply it to theirs.  Today we
are delighted that our software is being used by so many people around
the world.  We are just as pleased to see so many developers applying the
GPL to their own programs.  The process of revising the GPL affords an
opportunity to everyone who uses, or wishes to use, the GPL to help us
make it better.  We invite all members of the community to join us in
this effort.  


by johns last modified 2006-01-15 21:40

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