The traditional expectation for contributions to a free software project are "inbound=outbound" [1] [2]. That is, if the project is under license X, contributions are made under license X.

Does this apply to a project released under any/all of the following licenses with no additional CLA?

  • LGPL v2-only
  • GPL v2-only
  • LGPL v2-or-later
  • GPL v2-or-later
  • LGPL v3-only
  • GPL v3-only
  • AGPL v3-only
  • LGPL v3-or-later
  • GPL v3-or-later
  • AGPL v3-or-later

I am not concerned with compatibility beyond that, just that in each case that contributions are "by default" the same GPL-variant as the original project.


Yes, submissions to a GPL codebase remain under the same GPL variant. This is specifically because of the copyleft mechanism. For example, from section 10 of the GPLv3 license text:

Each time you convey a covered work, the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensors, to run, modify and propagate that work, subject to this License.

This applies to all listed variants of the GPL (version 2/3, only/or-later clause, A/L/GPL variant). Specific modifications to the license terms are sometimes allowed (for example, by the "or later" clause), but "by default" the terms remain the same.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.