Finnish programmer and composer of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds claimed that he won’t put the Linux kernel under the next version of the General Public License could represent another rupture in a community once united for free software.
At present the Free Software Foundation is re-writing the GPL for the very first time in 15 years. A draft GPL v 3.0 was recently released and is expected to undergo broad discussion and changes before the version is adopted. In the Linux kernel mailing list, Torvalds’ wrote on Wednesday that what is generally considered one of the most widely-used pieces of free software under the GPL will stay under the current version.
Torvalds said, “The Linux kernel is under the GPL version 2. Not anything else.” He added, “Some individual files are licensable under v3, but not the kernel in general. And quite frankly, I don’t see that changing.”
Terming the ides to be insane, Torvalds objected to a new proposal that would require people to make previously private keys available
He said, “I wouldn’t do it. So I don’t think the GPL v3 conversion is going to happen for the kernel, since I personally don’t want to convert any of my code.”
GNU author Richard Stallman believes that software should be free, i.e., freely distributed, free to revise and free to distribute in the revised form. The next version of the GPL is aimed at ensuring that while coping with changing laws and dynamics surrounding intellectual property.
Bruce Lehman, former U.S. commissioner of patents and trademarks under President Clinton and senior counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, said he believes the latest news may show a weakening in the free software movement.
Lehman, who acknowledged during an interview Friday that purists in the free software movement may see him as the “Prince of Darkness” for helping write the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, said open source software, which can be used in proprietary software, is more realistic.
Lehman who is a patent lawyer said, “People who do work commercially, producing software and trying to sell it, are not going to want to agree to make everything they do free.” He added, “Only people with independent incomes, at universities, or consultants paid for their time and services, who are not getting paid for writing software, will.”
Unlike Stallman, who spends much of his time promoting his philosophy on free software, Lehman said he doesn’t see substantiation of significant declined in patent quality. He said that is demonstrated in courts, where he believes patent quality is truly put to the test.
“If anything, it’s the other way around, with patents being upheld by the courts,” he said.