First GPLv3 draft

As almost every reader of this journal will know, the first GPLv3 draft has been published, and everyone is invited to comment on it.

I obviously already left some comments, though I still want to write up a somewhat larger article on my thoughts on it. This journal entry is not that article ;)

In general, I'm quite relieved. I had somewhat mixed expectations - but almost everything looks quite fine, and there are hardly any issues. I obviously like the DRM countermeasures.

From a gpl enforcement point of view, it is very good to see that the "complete corresponding source code" has been specified in more detail. This should save us from the hassle of ever again starting the discussion (nit-picking) on whether "scripts to control compilation and installation" (GPLv2) really only means scripts, or whether it also covers other methods controlling compilation and installation.

What is a real problem, and I hope this can still be resolved, is the new "60 days" grace period that was introduced. With GPLv2, the right to distribute the software was automatically revoked in the case non-conformant distribution has happened. In the v3 draft, there is a grace period where the rights _may_ be terminated, and only 60 days after being notified by one of the copyright holders.

The intention of it is to take care of "inadvertent violation". As harmless and reasonable as this sounds, this change has the potential to render most of the current enforcement success of impossible in the future.

From all the 60+ cases that we've enforced, I cannot tell you one case where the defendant would not claim that the violation was inadvertent. So in reality, inadvertent basically means "we didn't care". However, the whole point of the gpl enforcement exercise is to raise awareness and make them care before it is too late.

The 60 days grace period is not acceptable. On the one hand, we (in Germany) basically loose the ability to apply for preliminary injunctions. PI's are only granted in case of urgency, which translates (depending on the court) to something like 30 days. So if I know for more than 30 days that somebody is infringing on my copyright (and don't get the matter resolved with him in that period of time), then I can't consider this matter as urgent.

The 60 days grace period is also not acceptable, because it would basically reduce the motivation to comply with the license in the first place. So for EvilCorp Inc. it is perfectly possible to design a product using GPL licensed software, not comply with the license, ship the product, wait for a copyright holder to send a notice, make sure that I ship all the remaining in-stock products that do not contain a written offer, GPL text and/or source code in the 60 remaining days, and then start behaving GPL compliant. If such behaviour has no consequences at all, why would anyone behave different in the first place?