On June 29, 2007, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) released the last call drafts of Version 3 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv3) and Version 3 of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPLv3). The Free Software Foundation and other developers license free software, including the GNU operating system and its widely used GNU/Linux variant, under one or more versions of the GNU GPL or GNU LGPL, one of the most popular reciprocal open source licensing regimes. The revised licences attempt to address the following concerns not addressed by prior versions:

  • to restrict the growing practise of distributing GPL licensed programs in devices which use technical protections against installing and running modified versions;
  • to waive the anti-circumvention rights which may be granted pursuant to the 1996 WIPO treaty and any similar laws to a party conveying GPL licensed programs, in favour of permitted GPL uses; and
  • to reduce the patent risk to GPL licensees by: (i) improving the patent retaliation measures against GPL licensees who assert patent infringement in relation to use of GPL licensed programs, (ii) permitting some exemptions for distributors who do not contribute to the GPL licensed programs they distribute; and (iii) to respond to the Microsoft Novell business arrangement announced in November 2006 by adding provisions to prevent the discriminatory licensing of patent rights against downstream users in the future. Future deals of the sort brokered between Microsoft Novell are addressed in at least two ways: discriminatory licensing by distributors is prevented by extending those licences to all users of a work; and discriminatory patent promises between free software vendors and patent holders are discouraged by terminating the licences to those free software vendors. However, similar deals entered into prior to June 29, 2007 will circumvent the protections in GNU GPL v3;
  • other terms to better address linking between other open source regimes, including the Affero GPL and the Apache License version 2.0; and
  • to harmonize LPGLv3 with GPLv3.

The GNU GPLv3 project and commentary on the changes

Full text of GNU GPLv3

Full text GNU LGPLv3