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Re: Software Licenced Under a Specific Version of GPL

On Sat, Sep 01, 2001 at 04:23:36PM +0200, Santiago Vila wrote:
> On Sat, 1 Sep 2001, Jakob B. Jensen wrote:
> > Suppose package X is licensed under "GPL version 1 or later".
> >
> > As long as this text remains on the package, each recipient has
> > the freedom to use it *at his/hers option* under GPL 1, 2 or 3
> > (or later).
> >
> > Suppose by an act of packaging Debian licenses the packaged (and
> > usually slightly modified) X.deb as "GPL version 2 or later".
> > The packager has unnecessarily taken away the freedom of the
> > user to use the resulting .deb file under GPL version 1, if he
> > so chooses. [...]
> GPL does not refer to use of the .deb binary package, it refers to
> redistribution of the package as a whole (source and binaries).
> As long as GPL-1 is still inside the source code, everybody has the
> right to modify and redistribute the package under "GPL-1 or later".

Which is precisely my point.  If GPL-2 is removed from the
package through some default mechanism, the users right to obey
only the original license goes away.

I have seen several cases of the following idiom:

Program bar from upstream is in the public domain or BSD or
whatever, the Debian control scripts and patches are GPL (which
is permitted by the upstream license).  Debian users get a GPL
license, users of other distributions get the freedom to use
other licenses.

To me that practice sounds like a topic for policy debate and

> In other words, just because we refer in the copyright file to the
> latest version of GPL and it happens to be version 2 does not
> necessarily mean we are relicensing the package to "version 2 or
> later".

If /usr/share/doc/foo/copyright says "You may use this package
according to /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL or any later
version" (Or a similar vague statement relying on a specific
contents of that symlink), changing GPL to point to GPL-3 could
cause future uploads to be "automatically" relicensed.

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This message is hastily written, please ignore any unpleasant wordings,
do not consider it a binding commitment, even if its phrasing may
indicate so. Its contents may be deliberately or accidentally untrue.
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