24 July 2009

Why the GNU GPL v3 Matters Even More

A little while back, I wrote a post called "Why the GNU GPL Still Matters". I was talking in general terms, and didn't really distinguish between the historical GNU GPL version 2 and the new version 3. That's in part because I didn't really have any figures on how the latter was doing. Now I do, because Matt Asay has just published some plausible estimates:

In July 2007, version 3 of the GNU General Public License barely accounted for 164 projects. A year later, the number had climbed past 2,000 total projects. Today, as announced by Google open-source programs office manager Chris DiBona, the number of open-source projects licensed under GPLv3 is at least 56,000.

And that's just counting the projects hosted at Google Code.

In a hallway conversation with DiBona at OSCON, he told me roughly half of all projects on Google Code use the GPL and, of those, roughly half have moved to GPLv3, or 25 percent of all Google Code projects.

With more than 225,000 projects currently hosted at Google Code, that's a lot of GPLv3.

If we make the reasonable assumption that other open-source project repositories Sourceforge.net and Codehaus have similar GPLv3 adoption rates, the numbers of GPLv3 projects get very big, very fast.

This is important not just because it shows that there's considerable vigour in the GNU GPL licence yet, but because version 3 addresses a particularly hot area at the moment: software patents. The increasing use of GPL v3, with its stronger, more developed response to that threat, is therefore very good news indeed.

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Anonymous said...

Did you ask Chris how many Google projects are GPLed and out of those how many of them are v3?

I know they like open source licenses but Im under the impression that they dont really like the ones we free software developers use the most.

Those are numbers Im interested in.

Glyn Moody said...

You're right that Google hasn't been too keen on v3 in the past; maybe this info will encourage them to accept it more.