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Sprucing up open source's GPL foundation

By Stephen Shankland CNET News.com December 23, 2004, 4:00 AM PT

Modernization is coming to the General Public License, a legal framework that supports a large part of the free and open-source software movements and that has received sharp criticism from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

GPL author Richard Stallman said he's working on amendments that could deal better with software patents; clarify how GPL software may be used in some networked environments and on carefully controlled hardware; and lower some barriers that today prevent the mixing of software covered by the GPL and other licenses.

In the 13 years since the current GPL version 2 was released, the license has moved from the fringes to the center of the computing industry. GPL software is now common at Fortune 500 companies and endorsed by most large computing firms. But that prominence has made some eager for an update.

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