Saturday, June 7, 2008

GPL Project Watch List for Week of 06/06

The GPL v3 Watch List is intended to give you a snapshot of the GPLv3/LGPLv3 adoption for May 31st through June 6th, 2008.

This Week:

  • Week Summary
  • New Projects
  • FOSS licenses based on US Copyright law
  • User Contributions

Almost A Year Has Passed
The year has gone by quite quickly since the GPL v3 was first released. We have just entered into the month of the release, and it is only 23 days until a complete year has passed. It doesn't seem like we have been tracking the GPL v3 and its derivatives for a year, but it is more believable when you look at the count. Cumulatively, the GPL v3 and its derivatives have gained over 2800 adopters, which is an impressive number. Thousands of projects have, and now we can more confidently say thousands more will adopt the GPL v3, proving its significance in the open source community. The GPL v3 alone is now at 2533 GPL v3 projects, an increase of 62 GPL v3 projects. The AGPL v3 has gained 2 new projects, and is now at 102 AGPL v3 projects. And the LGPL v3 is now at 242 LGPL v3 projects. These numbers are considerably large and are still growing by the day. We will do a year summary to review all the key points over the past year for the anniversary of the GPL v3.

New project conversions this week include:
  • kjscompress: Command line tool to compress and obfuscate Javascript code and compress CSS code. (Based on KJS -- Javascript library included in KHTML.)
  • IT-Inventory: IT Inventory is a web based system for inventorying computers and other IT based equipment. You can also track repair orders for computers.
  • MySXP Open Platform: Application SAP like for win32, based on MySQL,and mixed with the egroupware politics and database compatibility.

FOSS licenses based on US Copyright law

Since most, if not all, US-based FOSS licenses are based on US Copyright law as defined in the US Constitution, all have this same "life of the creator plus 70 years" term, so length alone is not an advantage. Also, a work or creation is considered to be "copyrighted," at least under US law, as soon as it is "fixed in a tangible medium," which can mean bits saved on a magnetic disk. So while something may be "copyrighted," it is more difficult to enforce a copyright without a written registration with the US Copyright Office. Compare proving in a court of law that you "own" electronically distributed code merely by saying that you created it with being able to have documented proof that you are the author and registered the work on a particular date. To be in technical compliance with US Copyright law, and to maintain a copyright registration, the creator of a software project would probably have to periodically re-register the work as it grew and progressed, since adding new code is adding new "creative elements" which are in themselves copyrightable, but also change the original work enough so that it is something entirely different, thus requiring a new copyright.

In my opinion, it is actually a disadvantage to not license a work and leave it up to US Copyright law. If you look at the rights granted under US Copyright law ( ) you can see that the first three of those rights (right to reproduce, right to prepare derivative works, and right to distribute copies) seem to be pretty easily applicable to software code, but were obviously not originally conceived with electronic bits traveling around the Internet in mind.

So, not only do they not quite fit, they are fairly restrictive in terms of only granting any of these rights to the original creator of the work. So, before anyone can perform any of the "rights" related to the "work" granted to the original copyright holder, the original copyright holder must give permission. Combine the clunkiness of this method of permission with the instantaneous worldwide distribution system of the Internet and you have an unmanageable mess of trying to coordinate and keep track of who has what rights. Remind you of anything? Digital music?

FOSS licenses are written specifically for software code and define, to varying degrees, what can be done with that code and by whom. FOSS licenses are used by the holder of an original copyright in a creative software "work" to grant the permission ("license") mentioned above to others for others' use. FOSS licenses actually improve the efficiency of the open source movement. Keep in mind that the same rights granted under US Copyright law that are the foundation of FOSS licenses are the same rights that are the foundation of closed-source and proprietary licenses, so you can see that the structure of any given license can lead to dramatically different outcomes for what happens to software code depending on how various rights are granted or restricted.

-Kevin Howard

Thanks for the Continued Support and Contributions
Our database is partly maintained by our team of researchers as well by the contributions that are received from the community. Here is a submission we received last week through our web interface:


Gloss is intended to be a drop-in replacement for the existing MythTV frontend. It is written in Python however uses the Clutter OpenGL framework with the intent of producing a visually richer interface than the existing MythTV frontend.

Newest Release:
We appreciate all the contributions that have been made, either through our form on our web page or by email, and we also like to hear why you are changing your project's license as in the email above. It gives us more insight into which direction license trends are moving. We will continue to post up user contributions to our blog each week, and we may quote parts of your emails. If you wish the email to remain private, just mention so and we will not disclose any part of it.

Much Appreciated,

Palamida R&D Group

Notable Mention
Palamida actively takes submissions from visitors on updates on new GPL v3/LGPL 3 projects. We are amazed at the number of submissions we have gotten to date, but even more so, we are incredibly grateful to the almost 100 core contributors who have devoted their time and resources at helping us provide up-to-date information.

The Research Group (
  • Ernest Park
  • Antony Tran
  • Kevin Howard

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