Misleading InformationWeek GPLv3 article

Misleading InformationWeek GPLv3 article

LINUS CALLS GPLv3 "A FINE CHOICE" - is a title that InformationWeek could have used for their article. It would have been very selective quoting, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for InformationWeek. Nor does pretending that old emails are new emails, or misrepresenting people.

In reality, there is no news. Their article contains nothing at all that is new since GPLv3's June 29th release. I thought this clarification was worthwhile because Slashdot has now featured that article, and from looking at the comments, it seems that most readers have been fooled into thinking this is some new statement from Linus.

News? Olds?

The article starts with "Free Software Foundation last month published a revised version of the General Public License" - framing the article as post-GPLv3 news. It then proceeds to present quotes from Linus, without mentioning that they're from a June 20th email - that's not just old, it's from before GPLv3 was even published.

At the very end of the article, the June 20th date is mentioned in relation to one quote - but only that one quote. It's not mentioned that the whole story has just been a creative rehash of that one old email.


Of course, InformationWeek don't give readers a link to Linus's actual email. Besides being able to see that date that the quotes were taken from, readers could have seen that Linus's "fanatics and totalitarian states" comment was part of a general comment in a meandering discussion. It was not, contrary to the introduction of InformationWeek's article, part of a description of the "executives of Free Software Foundation ... mind-set".


I wonder how long it took them to decide not to quote this bit of the email: "I don't think it's hypocritical to prefer the GPLv3. That's a fine choice, it's just not mine." If they have some objection to publishing balanced statements, they could have just left out the last four words.


We've see some real low quality journalism during the GPLv3 drafting process. Dan Lyons's stories in Forbes (which Slashdot also featured) defined the low point. The author of this InformationWeek article, Paul McDougall, hasn't managed to stoop down to Lyons's level, but he gets my nomination for 2nd place.

Linus's position is clear. He's repeatedly said that he'd use GPLv3 in certain situations if there was a practical advantage, but he prefers v2 over v3. That's fine. I prefer v3, but v2 is still a great licence.

In related news, I just checked Groklaw and saw that PJ's latest story is about a different InformationWeek story which she finds misleading, on the topic of SCO, patents, and yet another claim about the end of free software.

Ciarán O'Riordan, -- Support free software: Join FSFE's Fellowship



Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Glad to see you reacting to this InformationWeek article.
When reading it, I had been quite shocked by how misleading it was.

skypjack's picture
Submitted by skypjack on

Main problem is that frequently news writer don't know what they talk about. Moreover, time is their problem and they can't read up on the matter.

First click, "oh, fine, this is good, but ... What's this means?"
Second click, "Mmm, cutting something maybe it works"
Third click, "Ok, copy, paste, cut ... overlong ... cut, cut, cut! Ok!"
fourth cl ... Beeeeeeeeeep! Out of time!!!!!
Article is ready? Oh, yes!

Tadatadan ... Misleading information! ;-)

King Nix's picture
Submitted by King Nix (not verified) on

I totally agree. The infoweek article was a shame.

Katy G. B.'s picture

anyone who reads the article will come to the same obvious realizations you have,

they correctly place times, quotes, and positions. Linus has not been in favor of GPLv3 and has been quite vocally against it, so their quote is just fine. *is subscribe to the kernel-dev mailing list*, &Linus has stated how he feels there many times. so no, maybe like this isn't 'this weeks' open source news, its more like; and 'yeah like so what else is new. but keep in mind that information week is anything but a FLOSS journal, so that they're late to the news should hardly surprise anyone. and as for _some_ `slashdotters' not reading the story and actually connecting any of the facts. well 'yeah like so what else is new' and 'this should hardly surprise anyone.

but look you mentioned Information Week and the GPLv3(&by association Linus and the "hypocrites" quote) like all in just your post's title. wtg on ensuring that you'll be linked to high heaven. i like so wish i had though of that; but i've been distracted by all the pretty code ;-)

Author information

Ciaran O’Riordan's picture


Free Software advocate, active on political campaigns such as that against software patents in Europea, and interested in free software licences