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Re: upstream changing from GPL-2+ to GPL-3+ without copyright holders permission

* Andrej Shadura:

> Hi,
> On Mon, 5 Aug 2019 at 14:38, Eriberto Mota <eriberto@debian.org> wrote:
>> Hi folks,
>> I have a basic doubt.
>> A program called "test" was released by Bob over GPL-2+. This program
>> got contributions from Ana and Chloe. The development was stopped some
>> years later and, now, Ted want continue this development. However, Ted
>> kept the name "test" and changed the licensing to GPL-3+ without a
>> permission from previous copyright holders, that are inactive. Is
>> possible do it, only considering the plus signal in previous licensing
>> (GPL-2+)?
> If the license statement says:
>> This program is free software; 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.
> then it is totally fine to choose that option, since the copyright
> holders have already given that permission you think they need to
> give.

In general, I agree.  But there might be cases that are less
clear-cut.  For example, if the upgrade from GPLv2+ to GPLv3+ is used
to gain permission to combine the work with an AGPL work, especially
if this is done in an “open core” context.  Or if the author clearly
intended that uploading the original (GPLv2+) work to someone else's
computer was distribution under the GPLv2 terms, and the GPLv3 upgrade
is used primarily to circumvent that.

I also think that in general, Debian should try to respect copyright
holders' wishes, even if the project is not required to do so.
Disregarding authors rarely leads to good outcomes.

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