Facebook, Google, IBM and Red Hat team up to increase predictability in open source licensing

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The global tech leaders Facebook, Google, IBM, and Red Hat, have joined hands alongside the Linux Kernel Community to increase the predictability in open source licensing, by extending additional rights in curing open source license compliance issues and mistakes.  

“Open source accelerates the pace of innovation in the world. Extending the good-faith opportunity for developers to correct errors in license compliance has the potential to help move the industry forward and allow engineers to focus on building great things,” said Allen Lo, vice president and deputy general counsel, Facebook.  

The joint approach aims at promoting fairness in the open source license enforcement through a new community-oriented approach. Red Hat said that the GNU General Public License (GPL) and GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) are among the mostly used open source software licenses.  

The version 3 of GPL (GPLv3) when released included termination approach that offered the capabilities to overcome errors and mistakes in license compliance to the users. This provides a reasonable approach towards inadvertent errors and allows for enforcing license compliance as per community rules.  

Facebook, Google, IBM, and Red Hat have now collaborated to extend the termination approach of GPLv3 to the previous versions of GPL as well, including GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 and v2. “We believe in promoting greater fairness and predictability in license enforcement and the growth of participation in the open source community,” said Michael Cunningham, Executive VP and General Counsel, Red Hat. 

“For many years, General Public License v2 and V3 have guided the development of the world’s largest shared code base, Linux. Extending GPLv3’s non-compliance cure provision to GPLv2 will enable the continued adoption and robust growth of Linux for decades to come. IBM has long been a leading supporter of Linux and open source and assists in the development of the Linux kernel. Deepening our commitment with this assertion is a natural evolution of that support,” said Mark Ringes, assistant general counsel, IBM. 

This collaboration will provide greater predictability to the open source software users, the majority of which are cloud service providers, telecommunications service providers, and enterprises with open source software in their networks.  

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