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Re: GPL "+" question

2015-05-29 16:06 GMT+02:00 Ole Streicher <olebole@debian.org>:
> Paul Tagliamonte <paultag@debian.org> writes:
>> On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 03:09:34PM +0200, Ole Streicher wrote:
>>> Same for me. However: the (L)GPL allows even an unmodified
>>> redistribution under a later license.
>> This is key -- redistribution. It doesn't change the license.
> It does. Just look into the license (resp. the header, for simplicity):
> | 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.
> So, redistribution may change the license.

It is indeed quite a grey area, and quite confusing, in my opinion.
According with the (simple but enough for my purposes) definition in
Wikipedia ("Copyright is a form of intellectual property, applicable
to any expressed representation of a creative work. It is often shared
among multiple authors, each of whom holds a set of rights to use or
license the work, and who are commonly referred to as rightsholders.
These rights frequently include reproduction, control over derivative
works, distribution, public performance, and "moral rights" such as
attribution.") [1], it is the author[s] the one[s] who has the rights
to license the work.

GPL2 [2] says: "This License applies to any program or other work
which contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may
be distributed under the terms of this General Public License. The
"Program", below, refers to any such program or work, and a "work
based on the Program" means either the Program or any derivative work
under copyright law: that is to say, a work containing the Program or
a portion of it, either verbatim or with modifications and/or
translated into another language.", so the unmodified program is
explicitly defined by the license as a "work based on the Program". It
also says that "Activities other than copying, distribution and
modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its
scope", so the license does explicitly not apply to relicensing. You
can't relicense other person's work released under GPL2.

What the license says is that "You must cause any work that you
distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived
from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no
charge to all third parties under the terms of this License". It is
also said that "If the Program specifies a version number of this
License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the
option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or
of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the
Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may
choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation."

So in my opinion, if you modify a code which was released under GPL2+
and you license your modifications as GPL3+, the resulting work has to
also be GPL, and the terms or conditions that apply are those of the
version 3 of the lincense, or later, but you're not effectively
relicensing the code that is not yours, so that part would be still
licensed as GPL2+ by the author and copyright holder. So if you later
removed the part of code that was covered by a different license, the
resulting code would be still under the original license, because you
were never the copyright holder, and you never had permission to
relicense it. I seriously doubt that any judge would rule otherwise.

That's just my two cents.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright
[2] http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html

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