GPL V3 and SaaS
June 29, 2007
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today released version 3 of the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL). I’m not sure how it ended up being released on the same day as the iPhone.
I fear that V3 will turn out to be notable mainly for the software as a service (SaaS) loophole. Software available as a web service, rather than as a program that runs on the user’s machine, is not covered by the terms of GPL V3, any more than it was covered by V2.
Strictly speaking, the software that powers this blog provides an example of this loophole. WordPress.com is SaaS. I don’t have access to the source code, even though it is based on WordPress, which is released under the GPL. This particular example doesn’t disturb me (for reason I’ll go into if challenged).
But in one account of the case for being disturbed by the more general SaaS issue, Bryan Richard described GPL V3 as a license that best represents the software of 1989 and have transformed a loophole into a tunnel you can drive a truck through