FSFLA's GNUsletter
Issue #24
July/August, 2007

1. Editorial: FSFLA welcomes GPLv3
2. New board observers
3. stdlib: workgroup on Free Open Standards
4. News and Events
5. Help wanted

1. Editorial: FSFLA welcomes GPLv3

FSFLA celebrates the publication of the third revision of the GNU General Public License, on June 29, and congratulates its sister organization, the original Free Software Foundation, as well as every other participant in its development, for this great achievement.

The GPLv3 is the best license available today for developers who want to make sure the software they write can only be modified and distributed by those who respect, with regard to that code, the users' freedoms that characterize Free Software: the freedoms to (0) run the program for any purpose, (1) study the program and adapt it to one's own needs, (2) distribute the program the way it was received, and (3) improve the program and distribute the modifications.

There is a common misunderstanding that Free Software is limited to the GPL, or only to copyleft licenses, i.e., licenses that require the same permissions to be granted to downstream users in case the software is further distributed, with or without modifications. But Free Software is not limited to such licenses. More permissive licenses, that respect the four freedoms established in the Free Software Definition, without defending any or all of them, are Free Software licenses as well.

In fact, the Free Software Definition was the basis for Bruce Perens' Debian Free Software Guidelines, which in turn served as the basis for the Open-Source Definition. It is therefore no surprise that the president of the Open-Source Initiative expects that they will consider the GPLv3 an open-source license.

In both movements you'll find people who prefer the most permissive licenses, people who prefer the strongest copyleft licenses, and every shade of gray in between. While some prefer to count on others' ethics or economics, rather than on law-supported copyleft, to keep Free Software Free, others are happy enough to do the right thing themselves, and are not concerned if their code is used in programs that disrespect users' freedoms. Thus, controversies surrounding copyleft provisions are not new, and it's no surprise that some of GPLv3's more-explicit requirements of respect for users' freedoms are the topic of heated debates.

For those who have similar preferences, mutual cooperation in software development is easy, for they can settle on the same licensing terms. But even when preferences are quite different, cooperation can still be possible and desirable, as shown by the efforts by both the Apache Foundation and the Free Software Foundation to ensure GPLv3 permitted combination with software under the more permissive Apache License version 2.0.

If your preference is for making sure your code is only used in ways that are Free Software and/or Open Source, for all its users, the GPL can help you get what you want, regardless of whether you're moved by the ethics and morals of our social movement, or by the economics of the Open-Source development model, or a combination thereof.

The GPL has always striven to ensure that the Software remains Free for all its users. The conditions of not imposing any further requirements for the exercise of the freedoms by recipients of the software have always been there, all the way from the version 1. These conditions may be able to block various threats to users' freedoms, regardless of whether the threats stem from copyright laws, patent laws or other laws, or if they're implemented with help from third parties or technological measures. If any of these threats might be used to render the Software non-Free, the goal of the GPL is to protect users from them.

Some of these threats have only surfaced after GPLv2 was published, so it doesn't specifically address them. Although the general principle should still apply, it is up for interpretation, which is higher legal risk than having it clearly stated in the license. GPLv3 thus makes it clear that the new known threats are not permitted.

Switching to GPLv3 is a voluntary decision that the copyright holders of a program can make so as to take advantage of the stronger defenses GPLv3 provides against threats to users' freedoms, such as software patents, technical measures that impose restrictions on the exercise of rights granted through the license, legislation that criminalizes circumvention of technical measures for the exercise of legitimate rights, and delegation to third parties of distribution or of imposition of restrictions upon users, to escape the obligations of the license.

We encourage whoever wishes to count on these stronger protections to upgrade to GPLv3. For those with different wishes, all other Free Software and Open-Source licenses remain available, and cooperation with others who have compatible wishes remains possible.

We encourage Free Software and Open-Source Software developers to keep on working together on software development under terms they can agree on, and invite them to offer their code in terms compatible with the GPLv3, such that it can be used in more programs that comply with both definitions, and that have such compliance defended by the license while at that.

We are very excited that GPLv3 is available, and we invite Free Software and Open-Source Software developers to join us in relicensing programs under the GPLv3, such that new improvements and new uses thereof enjoy the better defenses against attempts to render the Software non-Free and non-Open-Source for other users.

2. New board observers

FSFLA welcomes Adriano Rafael Gomes, Anahuac de Paula Gil, Alfredo Rezinovsky, Andres Ricardo Castelblanco, Christiano Anderson, Daniel Coletti, Daniel Yucra, Eder L. Marques, Elkin Botero, Fabianne Balvedi, Felipe Augusto van de Wiel, Franco Iacomella, Glauber de Oliveira Costa, Gustavo Sverzut Barbieri, Henrique de Andrade, Harold Rivas, Jansen Senna, Marcelo Zunino, Omar Kaminski, Oscar Valenzuela, and Rafael Bonifaz as board observers who kindly agreed to join us over the months of June and July. We thank them for their support!

We still have some outstanding invitations, but more suggestions about potential future members are always welcome.

3. stdlib: workgroup on Free Open Standards

FSFLA wants to work on the promotion of Free Open Standards, i.e., standards that promote interoperability and prevent monopolies and exclusive dependencies.

Urgent action is needed, especially in the front of office document formats.

Join us in the workgroup stdlib@fsfla.org to help us plan actions in this regard.

4. News and Events

Alexandre Oliva spoke at SESOL, in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil.
http://www.sesol.ufc.br/sesol3/ (in Portuguese)

Pedro Rezende attended the ABNT meetings on OOXML standardization on June 14, in Brasília, and on July 17, in São Paulo, and spoke on OOXML and ODF at BotecoNet shortly after the latter meeting.
http://www.4linux.com.br/boteconet/ (in Portuguese)

Pedro Rezende spoke about Free Culture in the 21st century on June 20 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, and on laws and regulations for digital life at ESLIF on July 7 in Brasília.
http://www.institutofatima.edu.br/pos_sl/2eslif/ (in Portuguese)

Alexandre Oliva spoke about DRM for members of the Pro-Free Software Group at University of Campinas on June 28.

The Brazilian magazine ARede quoted us in a short article about some of the new provisions of GPLv3.
http://www.arede.inf.br/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1043&Itemid=85 (in Portuguese)

Richard Stallman, from our American sister organization, was in Venezuela in mid/late July and will be in Peru in August. Find out more at

Georg Greve and Jonas Öberg, from our European sister organization; G. Nagarjuna, from our Indian sister organization; and Alexandre Oliva will be in Argentina in August for Jornadas Regionales de Software Libre. Join us there and support one of the greatest Free Software events in Latin America.

5. Help wanted

FSFLA depends on voluntary work from Free Software enthusiasts. If you can and want to help, please join our workgroups. If you'd prefer to work on another projet, please bring it up at discusion@fsfla.org.

Please help us finish and verify the translations of GPLv3, of Richard Stallman's essay on reasons to switch to it, and of LGPLv3.

Copyright 2007 FSFLA

Translated by Antonio Negro, Dario Soto, Adriano Rafael Gomes and Jefferson Santos. Thanks!

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