Forbes has an article out this week on Richard Stallman and the GPL3 issue. It’s a fairly alarmist piece, in my view. It suggests that disagreements among the open source community around GPL3 threaten to derail the whole Linux and open source movement. Novell was contacted for this story, but we wouldn’t comment on specific provisions of GPL3 because the talks are ongoing, and we prefer to discuss our positions directly with the folks involved, rather than staking them out in the press.
What we did tell Forbes, which didn’t make its way into the article, is that we believe the industry will work its way through the disagreements that currently exist. If some projects do not adopt GPL 3, and other projects do, that will certainly present a challenge, but this challenge has to be be seen in a broader context. All major software vendors include significant amounts of third party code in their products, whether the product is primarily proprietary or open source in nature. Vendors understand that third parties may change their licensing policies and vendors make appropriate adjustments when that occurs. When the relevant technologies have been available under open source licenses such as the GPL, vendors actually have more options and flexibility to deal with changes in licensing practices.
Licensing negotiations go on all the time and the issues are complex and esoteric for most people. The discussions around GPL3 are different because they’re so public. It’s like watching the sausage being made. We’re certainly working our hardest to come up with solutions that will continue to push open source forward in the marketplace. We’re confident that the hurdles that do emerge will be overcome.