NewsForge: Sneak preview of GPL v. 3, part 2: System libraries and patents

“Maybe you’d rather spend your time writing code than wrangling
over legal details. But licenses like the GNU General Public
License (GPL) are the foundation on which free software is built.
Richard M. Stallman, the leader of the free software movement, is
contemplating a host of changes to the GPL for its 3.0

“In its third version, the GPL will be tweaked in ways that
strengthen its real-world impact. These changes range from
clarifying the role of ASP-hosted software to clarifying the ways
in which GPL-covered software may be distributed. Several of these
potential changes were covered in part one of this story.”

“The system library exception
One of Stallman’s stated goals for GPL3 is to “rework the system
library exception,” which is part of a more general effort to
clarify and focus the language of the GPL in several places.
One of the philosophical goals of the GPL is to prevent
GPL-covered work (in derived and redistributed form) from being
linked with non-free software. There are many ways in which this
can be accomplished, but as we saw with the situation of ASPs,
figuring out exactly which cases are covered can be quite


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