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

Florian Weimer writes ("Re: upstream changing from GPL-2+ to GPL-3+ without copyright holders permission"):
> Andrej Shadura:
> > then it is totally fine to choose that option, since the copyright
> > holders have already given that permission you think they need to
> > give.

Yes.  For more detail, see Francesco Poli's response which I think
answers the legal question entirely correctly.

> 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.

Florian, are you still answering the legal question ?  Because I don't
see how these kind of considerations (eg, the reaason for the licence
upgrader's choice, or the business model of the original authors)
could make much of a legal difference.  So I think if you intended to
answer the legal question then I completely disagree with you.

If you intended to answer (given the introduction of "fine") moral
questions instead, then of course these questions are much more

Then your view is a reasonable one, but I would tend to disagree.

Personally I have often taken GPLv2+ code and mixed it (either by
textual copying, or by linking) with AGPLv3+ code, taking advantage of
the GPLv2+ version upgrade and the GPLv3+'s AGPL-compatibility clause.
I have done similar things with LGPL'd code and the GNU GPL(s).

I dislike the open core business model; and I dislike
software-as-a-service models where the code is in practice Free for,
and owned by, only the service operators (usually, one dominant
service operator) - and thus in practice proprietary for everyone
else.  I don't think there is any ethical imperative to support these
business practices, and no obligation to avoid undermining them.

> 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.

I think taking proprietarised GPL service code, and making significant
enhancements under an AGPLv3+ licence, is a Good Thing.  Even if it
upsets the original authors or the proprietary service operators.

Whether it is a good community-building strategy is a different
question of course, and depends on how much interest there is in
freeing the code in question.

And, as individuals and companies we oftn need to make practical
political compromises (eg in our employment, or in our business
dealings, etc).  That might mean we would avoid doing things that
upset original authors, etc.

But Debian as a project is committed to Free Software.  As a project
we do not restrain our contributors from annoying proprietary software
companies, or more generally from fully exercising[1] the legal
freedoms we have to deal in Free Software.

In other words: how much weight to give to the preferences of the
original copyright holders is a matter for the individual maintainers.


[1] Of course we want to act consistently with our own values, such as
the Social Contract, the Diversity Statement, and so on.  My claim is
that those values do not include refraining from exercising our rights
just because it would annoy proprietary software owners.

Ian Jackson <ijackson@chiark.greenend.org.uk>   These opinions are my own.

If I emailed you from an address @fyvzl.net or @evade.org.uk, that is
a private address which bypasses my fierce spamfilter.

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