Changes to the open source GNU General Public Licence will not be “huge”, according to licence author Richard Stallman.
GPL version 3 is currently being written to reflect changes in the software market. The GPL is used to cover the distribution of most open source software.
Stallman, speaking at a recent Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) in Brussels, said GPL version 3 would be completed some time between this autumn and early 2007.
He said two of the most important changes in the licence would address digital rights management (DRM) and software patents.
Stallman said new DRM systems could hamper open source development. To solve this problem, GPL v3 will require software distributors to supply authorisation signature keys to users when required.
The licence will also add a provision granting patent rights to users in some cases, said Stallman.
But large companies like IBM, for instance, that have blanket cross-licensing agreements, and who don’t use a particular licence for a specific patent, will not be affected by this GPL v3 requirement, Stallman said.
The new GPL will also be made compatible with other licences with which it currently doesn’t work.