Stallman unbending on software patents

Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, debated proposed changes to General Public License at a public forum Tuesday but made clear that provisions to protect users from patent litigations will remain intact.

Stallman is the author of the original GPL, a license used with countless free and open-source software packages, including Linux. On Monday, the Free Software Foundation released a draft document of the GPL version 3, the first major revision in 15 years, written by Stallman and Eben Moglen, general counsel for the Free Software Foundation.
Richard Stallman

The forum, held Tuesday at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, represents one of the first steps of what is expected to be a yearlong debate over the updated GPL. The Free Software Foundation also published a rationale for the proposed changes.

GPL version 3 seeks to protect software users from software patent litigation and prevent use of digital rights management technology with GPL software. It also includes a «patent retaliation» clause that prohibits an organization from using privately modified GPL software if it files a patent infringement lawsuit relating to that software.

Although Stallman solicited comments from forum attendees, he made clear that the GPL version 3 will not alter the license’s basic stance on software patents. He said that…

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