Thursday, January 19, 2006

On the New Draft of the GPL

One of the most important legal instruments relating to the writing and publication of software is the General Public License created by the Free Software Foundation.

The FSF has recently released a draft of a new version of the GPL and requested comments.

I find the wording of the draft most infelicitous as it is filled with ambiguities and inconsistent terminology. And I also discovered that the commenting process is pretty well unworkable, since one cannot, as far as I can tell, see at one time and place all of the comments that have already been made about a particular passage.

And, to make matters worse, when I tried to send an email message raising these matters to the person known only as "johns," who claims to be the sole author of all the documents on the FSF's web site that relate to this draft, I could not send the message, but instead was informed

Unable to send mail ... Recipient address rejected: User unknown in local recipient table

If the Free Software Foundation had stock, I think that I would be selling it short.


Blogger John said...

I see that Prof. Moglen already contacted you, but let me add a couple of things. Thanks for pointing out that the author links are misleading and problematic (I am the elusive "johns") --- I'll fix that shortly. They refer to the poster of the articles rather than the author. The best way to contact the FSF with questions is to use the Contact link that appears in the upper right of each page at In the commenting system, you can see all the comments on a particular passage by clicking the "search" link in the status bar at the top of the screen, and entering the text you are interested in for the field that says "Text selected for comment". We look forward to getting your comments. Thanks!

2:29 PM  

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