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Re: GPL2 vs. GPL3 issue in VDR plug-in packages

Tobi <listaccount@e-tobi.net> writes:

> There is no line saying "This program is GPL2 " or something
> similar. Is this what you are referring to as "grant of license"?

That's what I mean, yes.

> Does this mean, that all these plug-ins don't have a valid GPL
> license at all?

Yes. Without explicit grant from the copyright holder to the recipient
of a particular work, the default situation is "all rights reserved
(to the copyright holder)".

This is a very common situation. Most people crating works of
authorship find copyright to be a huge hassle to even think about
(because it is). Those who do think about it will usually take
whatever appears to be the path of least resistance -- such as tossing
in a LICENSE file but failing to explicitly state that the work is
licensed under those terms.

A valid copyright statement and grant of license has a form like this:

    Copyright © <year>, <copyright holder's name and preferably email address>
    You may <do these specific actions>
    under the terms of <specific license terms or reference to same>.

Any act covered by copyright (such as copying, redistribution,
modification, etc.) that is not included in "do these specific
actions" is by default broadly reserved to the copyright holder and
forbidden to the recipient.

Anything short of a copyright statement and grant of licnese like the
above leaves the recipient on very shaky legal ground, with the entire
burden of risk borne by the recipient. This is why a wise recipient
will assume the *minimal* grant of permission (starting with "all
rights reserved") in the absence of explicit grant from the copyright

The only way to untie this knot is to get clarification from the
copyright holder, in the form of an explicit statement about exactly
what every recipient is permitted to do. Encouraging them to
re-release the work with an appropriate copyright statement and grant
of license directly written in the work (e.g. the header of every
source file, if a program) is usually the easiest for both sides.

 \      "We must become the change we want to see."  -- Mahatma Gandhi |
  `\                                                                   |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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