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



On Mon, 5 Aug 2019 09:38:08 -0300 Eriberto Mota wrote:

> Hi folks,

Hello!

> 
> 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+)?

As far I can tell, Ted can redistribute the program called "test" under
the terms of the GNU GPL v3 or later, since he has permission to
redistribute it under the terms of the GNU GPL v2 or later (and, in
terms of options, GPL-3+ is a subset of GPL-2+). This means that Ted
can choose to comply with the terms of the GPL v3 and he will be fine
with respect to his obligations on Bob's, Ana's and Chloe's
copyrighted material.

Ted cannot change the fact that Bob's, Ana's and Chloe's copyrighted
parts of "test" are available under GPL-2+, but Ted can do the
following, if he so wishes: by continuing "test" development, Ted
can release his own contributions under GPL-3+.
In the newly released "test" versions, Bob's, Ana's and Chloe's
contributions will be under GPL-2+, while Ted's contributions will be
under GPL-3+. The net result will be that the new "test" versions will
be effectively under GPL-3+ as a whole (although some parts of them
will stay under GPL-2+ and will thus be redistributable under GPL-2+,
assuming they may still be identified and extracted from "test"). 

I hope this clarifies.

Obviously, what I said is my own personal understanding of the issue.
I am not speaking on behalf of the Debian Project, I am not a lawyer,
this is not legal advice, and so forth...


-- 
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 There's not a second to spare! To the laboratory!
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
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