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Re: upstream has license which is an edited GPL

Stanislav Maslovski <stanislav.maslovski@gmail.com> writes:

> I was going to package CDDE [1] but noticed that upstream ships it
> with a license file which is GPL v.2 without the preamble and the
> appendix 

> I have e-mailed the upstream explaining that changing GPL and
> removing its copyright is not allowed

The copyright license on the document containing the GPL says:

 Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
 of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

So, even if they preserve the copyright notice, they still may not
redistribute changed copies of the GPL document. Only verbatim copies
may be redistributed.

> but I am interested in the following. If he does not reply can I
> repackage or even fork his source which is under such a license?

The recommended way to license a work under the GNU GPL is to
specifically grant license under the terms of "the GNU General Public
License as published by the Free Software Foundation" etc., and give
instructions on how to get a copy of the license. If they've followed
that recommendation, then you have license to redistribute under the
terms of the GNU GPL even if the work doesn't include that license

You are, as far as I can tell, free to obtain a verbatim copy of the
GNU GPL as described in the specific license grant (e.g. "either
version 2 of that License, or, at your option, any later version") and
exercise the license under the terms you find there.

You may even be within your rights to excise the copyright-infringing
modified document of the GPL and substitute a verbatim copy of the
real license text in the source you distribute. I'm not sure, though,
so I'm including debian-legal in this discussion for further input.

> Technically, it has all the terms of GPL, however I am worrying if
> what the upstream has done makes his resulting license legally void.

The inclusion of a license document doesn't imply anything about the
grant of license you have to the work. Likewise, I think the terms
that apply are those granted in the copyright holder's license grant.

Their license to the text of the GPL may be void, but the work under
discussion is (presumably) not a derivative work of the GPL document
itself. They can license the work in which they hold copyright however
they like, regardless of violating the copyright in a separate work,
and such license grant to third parties (such as you) should be

 \        “Consider the daffodil. And while you're doing that, I'll be |
  `\              over here, looking through your stuff.” —Jack Handey |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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