Jeff Abrahamson on Sat, 19 Jul 2003 22:11:05 -0400

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Re: [PLUG] Which license?

On Sat, Jul 19, 2003 at 09:40:55PM -0400, William H. Magill wrote:
>   [45 lines, 341 words, 2104 characters]  Top characters: etoairnh
> On Friday, July 18, 2003, at 08:31  PM, Tobias DiPasquale wrote:
> > GPL will give you control of the work itself and all derivative works,
> > requiring all of those to be licensed under the same constraints, as
> > well. For your purposes, GPL and LGPL are the same as far as control of
> > your idea is concerned: LGPL requires that the core code be GPL, but
> > unlike the GPL, one can use LGPL-code as a component of a larger system
> > without requiring all other components to be GPL.
> My understanding of the GPL is that the author GIVES UP "control" of 
> the code when they put it under that license -- that is to say, the 
> author 1) can no longer derive any "private" use of the code (i.e. 
> extractions/derivations/modifications etc. of that code are also 
> GPL'd), and 2) has no ability to say who can and who cannot use (or 
> modify) the code for whatever reason.
> Furthermore, the Copyright to the code is owned by the Free Software 
> Foundation, not the author. Which places the enforcement ability in the 
> hands of the FSF, not the author.

You don't have to assign your copyright to the FSF unless it's an FSF
project, in which case they require that.

> The purpose of the GPL being to forever remove ANYONE from having the 
> ability to "control" use of the code. (Which I realize, is a kind of 
> "control.") The only requirement for use of the code is to publish the 
> source.
>  From the preamble.

...which is not technically part of the license--see further down
where it says "the precise terms and conditions ... follow."

> "For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether 
> gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that 
> you have.  You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the 
> source code.  And you must show them these terms so they know their 
> rights."

That's not quite right. If you really own the copyright to the entire
work, you can do what you want, except that you can't prevent others
from doing what they want within the context of the license. Here's
the relevant language:

    Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or
    contest your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the
    intent is to exercise the right to control the distribution of
    derivative or collective works based on the Program.

That is, you could fork the code, assign a proprietary license to the
forked code, and go about your business. But the gpl'ed copy would
stay gpl'ed, and you couldn't prevent people from using or making
derived works from the gpl'ed copy.

But you can only do this if you own the copyright on the entire
work. If someone submits a patch and does not assign you copyright,
you no longer own the entire derived work: a portion belongs to the
other person. The gpl only guarantees that the whole is gpl'ed.


 Jeff Abrahamson  <>
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