Thursday, April 5, 2007

GPLv3 Third Discussion Draft -- Reaction

Jeff Seul, a partner with the Boston office of law firm Holland + Knight, was interviewed by Jack Loftus, a News Writer for on 03 Apr 2007. This interview – see Enterprise Linux News: GPLv3 draft gets thumbs down from IP attorney – has generated some heat in open source circles.

I am fascinated with the politics and drivers behind this interview. The question is: Do Seul’s opinions constitute a(n)…

  • Fresh opinion from a very good attorney who has joined the open source legal licensing world and is expressing his views,
  • Shill for MSFT because they are not a fan of GPL3 and would prefer GPLv2, or better yet, the decapitation of open source,
  • Attempt to garner new business (sometimes referred to as “open source ambulance chasing”),
  • Simple premature blow against the GPL v3 and the FSF’s process,
  • Gentle push to address some issues in V3,


  • Short-lived tempest that will be worked out with the final version.

I think there’s some truth in all these points. I know Jeff and he’s a good lawyer but he’s totally wrong about the ambiguity. V3 is clearer than V2. His criticisms about the rationale document are also misplaced. It’s not just a license explanation. It is also a philosophical document. Accompanying explanations are necessary because of the FSF’s larger goals and the process the FSF outlined in January ’06.

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