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54

Generally speaking, a licence grant is not revocable once it has been relied on. Once an author has published a piece of code under a licence, and someone has taken a copy on that basis, the author cannot retrospectively revoke that licence. If that licence permitted the recipient to make further copies, as free licences do, then you can get a copy from ...


51

Not only are you not required to change the licence, you are not permitted to. The code you took at the time was, according to you, conveyed under GPLv3. You've worked on it, and made a derivative work (in copyright terms), which you can only lawfully distribute under GPLv3 (see GPLv3 s5c). Note also that now upstream have relicensed, you cannot trivially ...


50

You can freely issue additional licenses to your own GPL software, without restriction. Licenses can either give an exclusive or non-exclusive right. For example, an employment contract will typically give the employer exclusive rights to whatever the employee produces as part of their work. But the GPL is non-exclusive, thus allowing multiple licenses for ...


30

If an employee makes a modified copy of a GPLv3-licensed open source library on the job, is that modified copy property of the employer? No. But the modifications are their property, in most countries, either under the local equivalent of the work for hire doctrine, or through a specific provision of the employee's contract. At that point, the new work's ...


29

The premiss of your question is faulty, at least so far as the title. You are selling a widget (in this case, a thermostat) which contains the binaries of Ubuntu Server and other pieces of free software, these all being covered by a variety of free licences. This is distribution, plain and simple. For any software you are distributing, whether yours or ...


26

Anyone who received the code under the GPLv3 can redistribute it under those terms forever (and so, too, may those recipients, etc.) so if the set of recipients of your code so far is a nonempty set, you may not be able to stop future redistribution of your past code under GPLv3 terms. If no one has downloaded your code, or if anyone who downloaded it didn't ...


23

With licenses it is actually quite simple: No license means no rights to you to even use the code for whatever purpose. Code being available somewhere for download doesn't imply any right to use it - similar as you don't have the right to harvest a field, just because you can enter it from the street. If there is a license that specifies the conditions ...


23

Is my understanding correct, or there is a nuance I do miss? There may be several, but this one is important: free software grants freedom, but not to everyone. The four freedoms are granted to all legitimate users of the software. It is perfectly OK for some organisation to sell you a copy of executable software under GPLv3. Having done so, they must ...


19

You have a misconception here. You're thinking that licenses take away your right to use a piece of code. In fact, licenses give you the right to use a piece of code. If there's no license, you can't use it. The exception is fair use: if you want to use the code in a way which is fair use, then that is permitted, whether or not there's a license. But if you ...


17

Is this legal to ask people to fill in a regular registration form in order to download the code? Absolutely. You can even require people to pay money to download GPL'ed software. What you can't do is to stop them redistributing it afterwards (provided they do so under the GPL). So while you may be able to record the people who downloaded it from you, ...


14

IANAL/TINLA: Proceed at your own risk. Yes. According to the GPL FAQ, it states here two things: I would like to release a program I wrote under the GNU GPL, but I would like to use the same code in nonfree programs. To release a nonfree program is always ethically tainted, but legally there is no obstacle to your doing this. If you are the copyright ...


13

No, the GPLv2 is incompatible with the GPLv3. The FSF says of v2 and v3 compatibility: Please note that GPLv2 is, by itself, not compatible with GPLv3. However, most software released under GPLv2 allows you to use the terms of later versions of the GPL as well. When this is the case, you can use the code under GPLv3 to make the desired combination. If ...


13

Selling licence exceptions, usually to copyleft licences, is a perfectly normal (though arguably somewhat distasteful) practice. Provided the developer is the sole rightsholder in the package, or has some other lawful means to re-license (eg CTA, or CLA that permits this, on all contributions) then this is a perfectly lawful thing to do.. The licence ...


12

Am I right assuming that the AGPL and GPLv3 are compatible? Yes, you can combine them, with the combination effectively being governed by the AGPL v3 license: GPL v3 section 13. Use with the GNU Affero General Public License. Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, you have permission to link or combine any covered work with a work licensed ...


12

If I fork a library that uses the GPL3 license and heavily modify it, can I then release the new library with an ApacheV2 license No, you may not. Your library is still, by your own admission, a derivative of the original GPLv3 code. GPLv3 s5c says that if you convey a derivative work, you must do so under GPLv3. I've also contacted the original project'...


11

Legally, those 30 lines are company property. Practically, those 30 lines are technical debt. As the original codebase evolves, you will need to continually apply the same 30 line patch to the code every time you update. When you leave the company, it will fall on your successor to keep making the changes. And you have to tell your successor and they ...


11

MongoDB requires contributors to sign a contributor agreement where they have to waive all rights so that MongoDB can license the code subsequently under whatever license they see fit. That includes non-free licenses which allows them to sell proprietary extensions which would otherwise be in violation of the GPL, if they had to abide by it.


10

I've paid for an alternate license for a software package before, and here's more or less what happens (disclaimer: it's been a while and I'm doing this from memory). The alternate license covers the source code that you receive, but that license is not the entirety of your agreement with the developer. There's also a contract that covers the remaining ...


10

The GPL FAQ is fairly clear: Is making and using multiple copies within one organization or company “distribution”? No, in that case the organization is just making the copies for itself. As a consequence, a company or other organization can develop a modified version and install that version through its own facilities, without giving the staff permission ...


9

Wouldn't this change violate the terms of the previous copy-left license? It is indeed true that the GPL itself does not give permission to offer another's work under more permissive terms like the MIT/X11 license. Of course, nothing precludes a copyright holder from allowing their work to be made available under other terms besides the GPL. The relevant ...


8

The short answer is that, for my money, it's not. I agree with you that for GNU Coreutils, this is a s6d conveyance. I haven't followed the links that start at Docker Hub and flow through GitHub all the way, but I've already found a bunch of build tools, and I suspect they do end up pointing to the actual sources. Whether this chain of frangible links ...


8

No, it is completely lawful, and in my opinion a public service. The only possible argument against it would be that you're circumventing a technological protection measure, a practice which signatories to certain WIPO treaties are obliged to forbid. GPLv3 is very clear that that doesn't apply, in s3: When you convey a covered work, you waive any legal ...


7

I emailed Mr. Richard Stallman, the primary author of the GPL, for his opinion on this issue. I received the following reply: I studied this question for a while. It is clear that that matter of distribution violates GPLv3 overall. However, I couldn't be sure what courts might say. To work out the answer would require a very capable lawyer.


7

If you read the FSF's page on how to use the GPL for your software, the exact language they recommend for a GPLvN+ (GPL version N or any later) licence grant is This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the ...


6

Yes, that would be allowed. Versions of a software product that don't derive from/use GPL code are not subject to the GPL licensing terms, so you can use whatever license ou like for those versions. If the people using the development builds are all part of the same organisation, which holds the copyright on the project, then there the use of the GPL ...


6

Most Qt modules are licensed under the LGPL, but some are available under only the GPL. The Qt Modules page lists the (currently) six modules in Qt 5 that are not available under the LGPL. Qt Charts is one such module not available under the LGPL. One the other hand, Qt SQL is available under the LGPL. Your confusion over the "LGPL or GPL" language is ...


6

I have no intention of trying to argue with rms about this (or any other GPL-related) issue. But I think there's an interesting difference between GPLv2 and GPLv3 that gives rise to a new line of approach to the issue. The previous issue with Apple was, as the OP notes, GPLv2-specific. GPLv2's handling of additional obligations being placed on ...


6

The copyright and license headers you quote in your first segment pertain only to "this license document" -- i.e., the text of the GPLv3 itself -- and not to any external work that might be made available by others under the terms described in that license document. In short, licensing a work under the GPL does not impact your own copyright of your work; you ...


6

While MadHatter's answer covers the general case of a changing upstream license fairly well, it's worth noting that GPLv3 has a special compatibility clause with AGPLv3: 13. Use with the GNU Affero General Public License. Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, you have permission to link or combine any covered work with a work licensed under ...


5

We can both write a HelloWorld application in the same language and chances are that both programs will look very similar. This does not mean that, if I were to publish mine first, that your version would be derived from mine. Both are independent works, no matter how similar they look. Copyright law and -judges also recognize the fact that as there become ...


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