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Re: Licensing question about the GPL

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: Licensing question about the GPL
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 2005 10:33:29 +0200

On Mon, 01 Aug 2005 18:51:06 -0400
Steve <> wrote:

> I've heard this used as a counterargument against the claim that GPL is 
> a "viral" license (I don't use that term in a derogatory way, I thought 
> that was the whole point to the GPL!).  However, the argument that I've 
> heard states a copyright owner of GPL'ed software is able to 
> dual-license that software, period.  Is that really the case, universally?

The author/copyright owner can license the work as they please. 

> What about if your software is GPL'ed because it includes other GPL'ed 
> software?  It seems to me that in such a situation, you would be 
> required to obtain alternate-licensing from that other software's 
> copyright owner... who in turn would have to first obtain an alternate 
> license for any GPL code that THEY had used, an so forth.  

That is correct. Once there are multiple copyrights involved, the
permission of all the copyright holders is required. 

> It doesn't seem logical to me that I could take the GCC codebase, make some 
> changes, call it NCC ("New Compiler Collection"), and then dual-license 
> it for proprietary use without first getting permission from Stallman or 
> the FSF or whoever.

You are not the copyright owner of GCC, so the only way you can prepare
a derivative NCC from GCC is by accepting the GPL, meaning you have to
license NCC under the GPL. 

> Is my understanding incorrect, and one CAN dual-license any GPL'ed work 
> (even a derived work)... or is it rather the case that you can only 
> dual-license a GPL'ed work if you are the ORIGINAL copyright owner of 
> all GPL'ed components (or have their permission)?

The latter is the case.

As complexity rises, precise statements lose meaning,
and meaningful statements lose precision. -- Lotfi Zadeh 

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