Christine Martino, vice president of open source and Linux at HP, also foresaw a positive impact in more easily being able to combine source code from different projects. However, she cautioned that such compatibility may add a degree of complexity to the management of license information. "If this feature of the license is adopted, it would become necessary to track a new class of special license information; whereas in the past, GPL-licensed projects had much simpler licensing information (just GPL)," Martino wrote in an e-mail request for comment.
The FSF has worked hard on trying to further internationalize the GPL, according to Moglen, with the ultimate aim to create a "global GPL," he said. "We've cut free from the moorings of the U.S. law as much as we could," he added. "We've got a lot to do."
Where the FSF has not yet ventured is in creating legally binding translations of the GPL, according to Arnö.
While previous versions of the GPL have been translated into a plethora of languages, none of the translations have the official approval of the FSF. The only authentic version of the license is in English, with the FSF stating that checking translations of the license would be difficult and expensive and should any errors slip through the translation process, the entire free software community could be harmed. The unofficial translations are for native speakers to better understand the license, not to be used in any legal process.
Arnö fully understands those concerns. For any official translation, the FSF would want to be absolutely sure that the license could be defended by very competent lawyers fluent in that language. "But when it comes to freedom, I also would like to tout the horn for freedom from dependence on any single language," he wrote.
The FSF intends to continue receiving comments on the initial GPL 3 draft into late April and early May, according to Moglen. Then, Richard Stallman, creator of the GPL and FSF president, and Moglen will take a break and work on the second draft of the license, which they currently hope to release in late May, he said.
"This [the second draft] could be the final release, if there are no open issues on major subjects," Moglen said. However, he doubts that will be the case, so a "last-call" draft scheduled for the fall is likely, he added.
Stallman and Moglen are also working on an initial draft for the Lesser GPL (LGPL) 3 that could appear in May. The LGPL is a looser license than the GPL and can be linked to free or proprietary software not licensed under the GPL. The aim to is run the LGPL 3 process in parallel with GPL 3, according to Moglen.
(Robert McMillan in San Francisco contributed to this story.)