GPL 3 may tackle Web loophole

by admin September 28, 2005 at 10:50 am

The next version of the General Public License may tackle the issue of Web companies that use free software in commercial Web-based applications but don’t distribute the source code.

At present, companies that distribute GPL-licensed software must make the source code publicly available, including any modifications they’ve made. Though the rule covers many businesses that use GPL-licensed software for commercial ends, it doesn’t cover Web companies that use such software to offer their services through the Web, as they’re not actually distributing the software.

GPL 3, the next version of the free software license, a draft of which is expected to be released in early 2006, may close this loophole, GPL author and Free Software Foundation head Richard Stallman said in an interview with publisher O’Reilly Media.

Stallman said developers may be encouraged to add a command to their GPL-licensed Web application that lets users download the source code. The inclusion of this command in modified versions of the program will then be enforced by an additional clause in GPL 3.

Full article: ZDNet Australia