I thought I would mention a few early thoughts on the GPLv3 progress, and the impact it may have on the Eclipse community. (In other words, I am most emphatically not talking about the merits of the Free Software Foundation (FSF)’s proposed GPL revisions in general.) Janet Campbell from the staff of the Eclipse Foundation is actively involved as a member of “Committee A“, so we are participating in the revision process.
However, it is important to realize that when the FSF refers to “compatibility”, they mean that GPLv3 code can consume Eclipse Public License (EPL) code. Not the other way around. So it’s a one-way street and Eclipse projects will remain unable to consume GPL code. That said, the ability for GPL projects to re-distribute EPL-licensed code would be an important and positive development.
Definitely the new GPLv3 terms for dealing with patents goes a long way to making the licenses compatible. That was the one area that the FSF themselves had identified as an issue between the GPLv2 and the EPL. However, the Foundation is still doing an evaluation of compatibility, as we owe it to our own community to be completely satisfied that we agree with the FSF’s position. Early results indicate that there are still some areas that need to be worked on.
We are also looking forward to the process for revising the LGPLv3. If that license can be made compatible with the EPL to the point where LGPL code could be used within Eclipse projects, the status quo could be dramatically improved. Unfortunately, only time will tell if this will come to pass, as the revision process for the LGPL has not even started yet.