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Re: gplv3 files and updates

From: Bruno Haible
Subject: Re: gplv3 files and updates
Date: Sat, 7 Jul 2007 02:23:38 +0200
User-agent: KMail/1.5.4

Karl Berry wrote:
> It's the conversion from GPL to LGPL by gnulib-tool that worries me.

gnulib-tool has this code, to verify that such relabelling is only done
when granted by the module description. (Paul suggested this check.)

  # If --lgpl, verify that the licenses of modules are compatible.
  if test -n "$lgpl"; then
    for module in $modules; do
      license=`func_get_license $module`
      case $license in
        LGPL | 'GPLed build tool') ;;
        'public domain' | 'unlimited' | 'unmodifiable license text') ;;
        *) func_fatal_error "incompatible license on module $module: $license" 

>     > On the face of it, it does not seem legal.
>     Why not? 
> In the specific case: because you can't relicense something from GPL to

There is no "relicensing" involved. Only relabelling. Inside the group
of gnulib developers, everyone knows that the copyright is in the module
description. When we distribute a source file outside this group, we
put the copyright notice into the header file, optionally converting from
LGPL to GPL. gnulib-tool helps us doing this job mechanically.

> In the general case: because the copyright of a file is what's stated in
> the file.  Something stated in some other document can't somehow
> "override" what's in the file itself.

Can you give references for this? (Law text or court decisions.)

> At least I've never seen any legal basis for that.

Do you have legal basis for the opposite, i.e. for the claim that
copyright statements cannot be in surrounding documentation, but must
be in the text files themselves? It is like claiming that an artist must
always sign his paintings on the painting itself, rather than on a label
next to it.


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