[Novalug] Possible Novell Ban on Selling Linux
angelo at freeshell.org
Sun Feb 4 14:55:39 EST 2007
Russell Evans wrote:
> Even the ones stated to be GLP licensed on the site are not copyrighted
> by FSF. If I understand it correctly, the only way for software to be
> moved to GPL 3 is if the copyright holders themselves move to GPL 3.
> As FSF is the only one I've heard about moving to GPL 3, it would be
> good to have a list of software under their copyright.
Also... the copyright holder of the software can always relicense their
own software. Just because I put something under the GPL, doesn't mean
I can't make it closed again. But anyone who downloaded it under the
GPL received that particular license for it. You can't revoke the
license that they received, but you as the owner can always put your
future distributions (i.e. copies) under any license you want. (It's
just not going to help you much if someone out there already has it
under the GPL.)
The benefit to saying "you can put this under any later version" is in
the case with open source when there are multiple copyright holders.
When you add value to the code, by default, you own the copyright to the
part you added. So if a big, long-term project has had many developers
come and go, it would be beneficial to the project to optionally
"upgrade" their license to the GPL.
IMO this could have been done a better way. Barring the situation above
with multiple developers who you would have to contact and get
permission to change the license on their portion, I think that clause
is bad. The really clever thing about the GPL is that it says "you can
use this, but you must use the same license." This one clause puts a
hole in that, and requires you to trust that FSF now and forever will
come up with versions of the GPL that you agree with and that preserve
the original intent of the openness of your software.
And someone may trust Stallman, and maybe he could do no evil. But the
license will live longer than Stallman, and the FSF will live longer
than Stallman, so anything in the future is possible. Who knows what
GPL 6 will look like? Who knows whether or not another company may
acquire the FSF in the future and retain the rights to create new
versions of the GPL? Not saying that the community couldn't handle
this, but it's bad in principle.
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