Tobias DiPasquale on Mon, 21 Jul 2003 07:21:16 -0400

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Re: [PLUG] Which license?

On Sun, 2003-07-20 at 18:24, Barry Roomberg wrote:
> Code that is released GPL can't have the GPL revoked.  But an IDENTICAL
> copy of the code sitting on the original author's hard disk is still
> controlled by the author.  That particular piece of code is not GPL.  

Yes, this is the distinction between a "release of an item" and the
"item" itself. More on this below.

> Both copies have have "Copyright" associated with them.  But the GPLed 
> copy has a license that is associated with it as it leaves the author's
> possession and is given to someone else.  As long as the recipient abides
> by the license, the GPL is intact and "controlls" what is allowed to happen
> to the code.  If the recipient breaks the GPL, then the Copyright is still
> intact and then dramatically limits what the person can do with the code.
> They really are not allowed to do anything with it without the author's
> permission.

The license only restricts the parties receiving the licensed item, not
the copyright holder. The copyright holder is still free to do what they
wish with their item. However, if they have accepted copyrighted code
(patches, modules, new features, etc.) from the outside and incorporated
it into said item, they are no longer the sole copyright holder for the
item and therefore must obtain a consensus before making any license

Everyone knows about SourceForge, right? Well, SourceForge got around
this by requiring that all submissions be copyrighted to them and
contacted all previous submitters to obtain the copyrights to their
works, as well. Then, in version 3.0, they modified the license to
proprietary once they were sole copyright owners. Versions prior to 3.0
are still open source and in fact have been used as the basis for both
the Savannah and GForge software indeces.

> The original (not GPLed copy) can then be used for any purpose that the
> copyright holder wishes, with any license at all.  
> The issue here beomes a possibility of forking.  If another developer takes
> the GPL code, makes a modification, and makes it public, and sends the
> changes back to the original author, there is problem for the original author.

Technically, if I were to release some code and then you submitted a
patch to me, which I accepted, I could no longer revoke the GPL license
from that __COMPLETE WORK__ without your permission, as well. However,
in the cases I mentioned in my previous email, the companies in question
did indeed hold copyright over the COMPLETE WORK and thus had to consult
with no one before changing the license. Code that was previously
released as GPL could have been forked at a later date by anyone as the
license still applied to it; the revocation can only apply to future
releases of an item.

> Outside coders picked up the last released GPL version.  This now
> competes with the commercial version.

This is what I was talking about above. Sistina could not revoke the GPL
on code its already released, only on the code itself (meaning, future
releases). It would be technically impossible to "recall" already
released GPL code, anyway (esp. in this day and age of Google-caching).

> Last time I looked, the LVM in the kernel is written by Sistina corp. 
> I won't use it.

I wasn't aware of this story. I know LVM is one of the big show-stoppers
for enterprise adoption of Linux right now; it would be a shame to have
a socially-unconscious company in charge of such a critical feature of
the kernel.

Tobias DiPasquale
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