Ariadne Conill of Alpine Linux published this article today, which I agree with wholeheartedly:

I'm a fan of the GNU GPL, especially version 3. I actually think version 3 is the best version, for several reasons. The events of 2021 have made me worry about GPLv4 and what that might bring, if it ever comes about, so I'm interested in removing the "or later" clauses, whenever permissible to do so, in my own projects.

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@libreleah I want to note a difference between Creative Commons and GPL here. CC licenses have -or-later built in, whereas FSF gives people the choice though it recommends -or-later. Somehow people like to complain about GPL but doesn't say much about similar issue with CC licenses.

@libreleah This "concern" is nothing new, see

"But if the new GPL version has a tighter requirement, it will not restrict use of the current version of the program, because it can still be used under GPL version 3. When a program says “Version 3 of the GPL or any later version”, users will always be permitted to use it, and even change it, according to the terms of GPL version 3—even after later versions of the GPL are available."

AC's article is missing actual examples

if this article was anything but a scaremongering attack on the FSF and on our movement and communities at large, it would mention and recommend the GPLv3-introduced possibility:

If the Program specifies that a proxy can decide which future versions of the GNU General Public License can be used, that proxy's public statement of acceptance of a version permanently authorizes you to choose that version for the Program.

it doesn't, therefore it's either ill intentioned or poorly informed

@libreleah I reread this article - it even failed to mention the basic fact that the main purpose of "or later" is to ensure license compatibility /facepalm

@libreleah "When the “or later version” clause was first introduced to the GPL, it was unthinkable that the Free Software Foundation could ever be in such a state of affairs, but now it is." — this is wrong. The „similar in spirit“ part is explicitly in there to prevent that problem.

The FSF already forsaw that such problems could come, and that part of the license protects against that.

@libreleah I now wrote a reply to the article:

Because I learned the hard way that a comment written somewhere usually gets lost in noise.

Please use the “or any later” option of the GPL. There is already considerable damage from GPLv2-only licensing.

We once spent enormous effort in a process that took several years to move Mercurial from GPLv2-only to GPLv2-or-later to enable compatibility with the Apache license. Such problems will come again if you use GPLv3-only.

@libreleah Interesting discussion. What exactly do you mean with "the events of 2021" though? I'm out of the loop.

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