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Maybe I'm searching with the wrong terms, but can the GNU LESSER GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE be removed from a software project like this browser extension? The commits in question are these https://github.com/igdownloader/InstagramDownloader/commit/90f2450c4f68504720f071fdc0c78321a7b85ce7 and https://github.com/igdownloader/InstagramDownloader/commit/ffc34364ea2b3e3547923c015246c87587640052

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  • The changes in the commit seem to be inconsistent. The files to not have a license attached, which means that they cannot be used, but the next line gives a right to use inside the project. Perhaps you need to have a (non open source) license that you publish under that restricts usage to within the project.
    – doneal24
    Mar 28, 2023 at 15:46
  • @doneal24 yes, also the "Copyright (c) 2022. HuiiBuh" is interesting as I haven't seen one that uses a nickname rather than a real name and email address as is custom. Mar 28, 2023 at 18:07
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    @ThomasR.Koll in passing, we deal with that issue also, in (eg) this question.
    – MadHatter
    Mar 28, 2023 at 20:47

1 Answer 1

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Interesting one.

Assuming the publisher is the sole rightsholder, yes, they are perfectly free to relicense the work; however, they can't revoke the licence on existing copies that are already out there in the world. If they're not the sole rightsholder, the consent of all other rightholders will be required to relicense. That said, they've not exactly been consistent about removing the LGPL header.

What's less clear in this case is whether the current publisher is the sole rightsholder. I can see examples (eg this and this) of others contributing to the work, but we have no way of knowing whether a CLA/CTA was required by the publisher (the former might well grant permission for such relicensing, and the latter definitely would).

If you've had a contribution accepted into the work, and you've not completed a CLA or CTA, then it seems likely to me that your contributions were made under LGPL, and your copyright may now be being infringed. If this applies, and you feel strongly about it, then consult actual lawyers and prepare for a fight. Otherwise, third-party rights are a thorny and jurisdictionally-dependent issue, so there may not be much you can do about it except stopping using the work. (Full disclosure: I wrote the last linked article, but I did not give the talk which it documents.)

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  • Thank you for that long answer. While I only contributed to the software at a later point, it did have nine other contributors besides the original author/repo owner upto to this point and I couldn't find any sort of discussion about a license change. Mar 28, 2023 at 18:11
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    @ThomasR.Koll then I think the first thing to do is politely approach the publisher, and tell him/her that you're not happy with the licence change. See where you go from there.
    – MadHatter
    Mar 28, 2023 at 20:45
  • @ThomasR.Koll, btw, one option I've seen projects take when 3rd-party contributions were minor and the primary licenseholder was determined enough to relicense is to remove or rewrite the code those contributors touched. Mar 28, 2023 at 21:20
  • @CharlesDuffy some would argue that that would not suffice.
    – MadHatter
    Mar 29, 2023 at 8:13

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