[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: GPL "+" question

Paul Tagliamonte <paultag@debian.org> writes:
> On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 09:32:12AM +0200, Ole Streicher wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I just had a discussion with an ftp-master who rejected one of my
>> packages. The package in question is "missfits". It contains a
>> directory, src/wcs/ with files that were originally released by Mark
>> Calabretta under LGPL-2+, but changed by the upstream author (Emmanuel
>> Bertin) and released in the package under GPL-3+.
> Upstream authors can't change licensing of any files, under any
> conditions, ever.

Generally spoken, this is wrong (or please point me to the source). For
example, I can give you a file saying "do what you want with it", then
this is the license.

However, "do what you want with it" includes that you can republish the
file as GPL.

For GPL. GPL-2+ contains a statement

| you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU
| General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation;
| either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later
| version.

which means: the upstream author is allowed to redistribute the (changed
or even unchanged) files under version 2, or also under version 3.

Since he redistributed them under version 3 or later, the license of
these files is GPL-3+. The statement above explicitely allows him to do

> If I say a file is GPLv2+, it is forever GPLv2+

Could you strengthen this with a reference?

> even if it's combined with a GPLv3 work, in that case the *files* are
> still GPLv2+,

The files are modified. The author of the modification applied GPL-3+ to
the changed file. He has the right to do so (see above), and since
original and change are glued together (neither the change nor the
original are separately distributed by upstream), the modified file
cannot be distributed by GPL-2 anymore.

>> debian/copyright currently mentions only GPL-3+ for the whole package.
> Yeah, debian/copyright isn't what the binary is distributed under, it's
> what the source licenses are.

I speak about sources.

>> The ftp-master now asked me to add GPL-2+ for these files to
>> debian/copyright. But I think that this would be wrong, since the files
>> under src/wcs are not distributable under GPL-2+ (because they contain
>> GPL-3+ code from Emmanuel Bertin).
> Nah, it's wrong because you said LGPLv2+, adding it sounds right.

It is wrong. The files in src/wcs are not distributable under GPL-2,
since they contain changes that are GPL-3+.

> Only the copyright holder can change what a *work* is licensed as.
> Anyone can distribute a derived work inline witht he terms of their
> license. That may also contains other terms as well.

If the original license allows, then anyone can redistribute the files
under a different license. And (L)GPL has a paragraph that allows this
under certain conditions (namely LGPL -> GPL, and version upgrades).

Best regards


Reply to: