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GPL? Meet the EUPL

Users of open source and free software are very familiar with open licences such as the GNU General Public License (GPL). Indeed all the content of this site is available under it (we’re still on version 2; the GPL itself is on 3.0 now. Damn techies. Ed.).

One piece of news that may have been missed amidst the economic woes, wailing and gnashing of teeth, was the approval on 9th January by the European Commission of the European Union Public Licence (EUPL). The EUPL is the first European Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) licence and was created at the instigation of the Commission. Its purpose is to facilitate the sharing, the reuse and improvement of software, with the aim of protecting both the interest of the authors (by preserving their copyright and avoiding that their work could be appropriated by a third party) and the users (by providing them all the rights that are granted by open source licences: use, modification and re-distribution).

As for how to use the EUPL, there’s a handy guide (PDF) for users and developers. The EUPL itself – preamble and licence – is available in PDF format in 22 languages here.

Hat tip: Global Freifunk

3 Responses to GPL? Meet the EUPL

  1. petef January 29, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    (we’re still on version 2; the GPL itself is on 3.0 now. Damn techies. Ed.)

    Many people don’t regard the GPL v3 as an improvement on v2 indeed some, such as the Linux kernel developers, have expressed the view that it is deeply flawed and have refused to switch to it. For example, talking about the so called “Tivoisation clauses” they say:

    While we find the use of DRM by media companies in their attempts to reach into user owned devices to control content deeply disturbing, our belief in the essential freedoms of section 3 forbids us from ever accepting any licence which contains end use restrictions. The existence of DRM abuse is no excuse for curtailing freedoms.

  2. woodsy January 29, 2009 at 12:24 pm #

    Thanks for your comment Pete.

    For those that don’t understand the Tivoisation reference, here’s the first paragraph from the Tivoization Wikipedia article:

    Tivoization is the creation of a system that incorporates software under the terms of a copyleft software license, but uses hardware to prevent users from running modified versions of the software on that hardware. Richard Stallman coined the term and believes this practice denies users some of the freedom that the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) was designed to protect.[1] The term came about in reference to TiVo’s use of GNU GPL licensed software on the TiVo brand digital video recorders (DVR).

    I think those who drafted the EUPL may have some sympathy with what you’ve expressed: the EUPL regards GPL version 2 as a compatible licence.

  3. MJ Ray February 2, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    The last time EUPL was posted to debian-legal (back in 2005), it was a click-wrap licence that didn’t specify how it regards internal distribution, contradicted itself about licensor authority, seemed to contradict EU law about a few things and wasn’t even gender-neutral. At a glance, it doesn’t look like it has changed significantly since then.

    Why the hell has the EC been wasting our money on this licence proliferation? I think they already helped to fund CeCILL, so it wasn’t even the first European licence, despite the press release guff quoted uncritically above.

    I’m not going to use EUPL and I’ll ask licensors who use it to change to a more common licence.