[aur-general] Licenses, GPL3 only

Peter Lewis pete at muddygoat.org
Tue Aug 31 06:39:52 EDT 2010

On Friday 27 August 2010 at 20:31 Alexander Duscheleit wrote:
> > Yes, this is your right. Just as you can take some software released
> > under "GPL2 or at your option, any later version" and redistribute it
> > under GPL3 only. This is "your option". You do not have the pass the
> > option on, since that doesn't form part of the copyleft.
> > 
> > Of course, someone else can redistribute the original under GPL2
> > only, GPL4 only, GPL2 "or later" or GPL3 "or later". That's their
> > option :-)
> That was my understanding, too. :-)


> It gets more interesting, when I make changes to my redistributed
> software, though.
> If i understand correctly, if upstream is GPL2+ and my version is GLP3
> only, I effectively either cut upstream out from my changes or force
> them to upgrade their version to GPL3 only (not even GPL3+).

Well, it's up to them what patches they include in the code they maintain, I 
suppose, so you can't force upstream to do anything. Many (most?) projects 
require you to licence your contributions under the same terms as the original 
if you want your patch considered (including any options), AFAIK. Doing 
otherwise, I suppose, would be considered a fork.

> This looks to me, like I could violate the spirit of the GPL through the
> GPL itself.

I think the FSF are now encouraging people to contact contributing authors to 
obtain their agreement to relicense their work under GPL3, if they did not 
originally permit that "option". (Keeping the "or later" option is useful 
therefore, since it can help to avoid situations like the one you describe).

> (Poaching in lawyers waters as a layman sure is fun :-D.)

Yeah - I have a good friend who does all this stuff for a living and it's fun 
hearing about various stories of the GPL's perception within businesses.


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