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Re: Bug#523093: undetermined copyright/license violation

In message <[🔎] 20090408212528.GA19396@thorin>, Robert Millan <rmh@aybabtu.com> writes

[ Adding Hubert Figuiere (gnote upstream) to CC, note that he's probably not
 subscribed ]

Hi Anthony,

On Wed, Apr 08, 2009 at 09:20:44PM +0100, Anthony W. Youngman wrote:
In message <[🔎] 20090408194833.GA5615@thorin>, Robert Millan
<rmh@aybabtu.com> writes
and a
clear violation of Tomboy's license.

Notice license and copyright statements are two separate issues.  AFAIK
LGPL doesn't explicitly require that a license notice is preserved mixing
code with other licenses like the BSD license does, but I could be mistaken.

Any advice on this from -legal?

If it's not your code, and the licence does not give you explicit
permission, then you can't change the licence and shouldn't remove the
licence note.

Note that the GPLs fall in this category!

The way you "change the licence" with this sort of code is by licencing
your code with a compatible licence. The licence for the resulting
combined work is the "Venn Intersect" of the two licences. If there's no
intersect, then you can't distribute.

Does this apply on a per-file basis?  It seems we have three different

Depends how you define "a work". I'd say (based on your stuff below) then if the only reason for modifying a file is to modify the copyright status, then you shouldn't be modifying it.

a- old file has no copyright/license statement, and a new
   copyright/license statement (for Hubert / GPLv3+) was added.

b- old file has a copyright/license statement, which is left
   verbatim since the file wasn't modified (or only minimally).

c- old file has a copyright/license statement, the new file adds
   its own GPLv3+ header and BOTH copyright lines (but not the
   LGPLv2.1 header).

Is any of these at fault?  You're saying that C is incorrect because it
should include both license headers (and not just both copyright lines)?

If the new file is all Hubert's work, then he can put whatever copyright and licence lines he likes in there.

Basically he should put there "(c) Hubert" and "licence GPLv3+".

If it's a NEW file, why should he put anything else there?

Or are you mixing it with A, which is a mix of old and new?

Is A also at fault because it should say explicitly that the copyright
only covers Hubert's changes (even if noone else bothered to assert their

If it doesn't make clear that Hubert's copyright and licence only apply to his changes, yes. In fact, I would say that it's a major breach of etiquette to change the licence - if Hubert knew the original licence was NOT GPLv3+, he should use the original licence for his mods, not GPL it. But note my use of *should*, not *must*.

For an example, if a program has three authors, one of whom uses BSD,
the second uses "LGPL 2.1 or later" and the third uses "GPL 3" then the
Venn Intersect is GPL 3, which is the licence that applies to the work
as a whole. However, any recipient is at full liberty to strip out parts
of the work, and use whatever licence the author granted.

Yeah, I understand the combined result is GPLv3;  the only doubt I have is
whether it's necessary to explicitly mention each license.

In the project copying file, you should say that the combined work is GPLv3, and mention that components may have different, compatible, licences.

If it's not, is there anything else we should take care of?

Each author *should*, as a matter of *courtesy*, explicitly mention the licence in all of their files, and *should* *not* use a different licence when modifying a different author's original files.


Anthony W. Youngman - anthony@thewolery.demon.co.uk

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