Media Contact: Free Software Foundation
Ravi Khanna <email@example.com>
Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, explained the motivation for this donation: "MySQL appreciates FSF's tireless work preserving, protecting and promoting Free Software, diligently policing the use of the GPL, defending GPL developers against license breaches, and educating the world about the principles of software freedom". Continued Mickos, "Everyone who uses Open Source and Free Software owes the FSF more than a debt of gratitude. We hope that our contribution will encourage other individuals and vendors who believe in and rely on the GPL to support the FSF any way they can."
MySQL's gift supports FSF's GPL Compliance Lab, an initiative that has existed informally since 1992, but was formalized by FSF late last year. The goal of the Compliance Lab is to help enforce the GPL license so that GPL-violating competitors cannot take advantage of companies that do comply with the license.
According to Bradley M. Kuhn, FSF's Executive Director: "FSF sees the defense of the license as fundamental to the work of the Free Software Movement. Even though FSF is strapped for resources, when MySQL needed help in their enforcement of the GPL, FSF lent its expertise. We are committed to doing this work regardless of our funding woes. We have always seen the need for an impartial party to enforce GPL. We are elated that MySQL shares our view and is willing to support our work financially."
Ideally, to run at full capacity, FSF's GPL Compliance Lab would require a budget of $200,000 per year. When the Compliance Lab was formalized, FSF had hoped that many companies that benefit greatly from Free Software would recognize its importance and help pay for the costs of this service. FSF hopes that this show of support will encourage other companies to come forward.
In 1992, when FSF was working informally to enforce GPL, there were just one or two violations each year. Today, FSF handles and resolves -- through diplomatic negotiation -- at least fifty GPL violations each year. All indications are that these numbers will continue to grow indefinitely.
FSF created the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) in 1989 and periodically publishes updated versions of that license. Today, GPL is the most common Free Software license, used for over 50 percent of all known Free Software. Unlike most copyright agreements that are designed to take away users' freedoms, the GPL guarantees users' rights to share and change Free Software. Many companies, including MySQL AB, IBM and HP have profitable business units centered around these freedoms.
The GPL is seen as a serious threat by many proprietary software companies whose licenses aim to take these freedoms from users. All the while, FSF continues to defend the GNU GPL against both PR and legal attacks and diligently works on version 3 (GPLv3) of the license (the first new version in 12 years). GPLv3 will address new issues of freedom for users and programmers that were unknown at the time of the 1991 version 2 publication. No date for public draft distribution of GPLv3 has been set, but it is expected in the first half of 2003. An early draft of a few GPLv3 provisions was released earlier this year as part of the Affero General Public License.
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Updated: $Date: 2005/05/05 19:37:19 $ $Author: novalis $