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Re: "Preferred form for making modifications"

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: "Preferred form for making modifications"
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 15:33:39 +0100

On Tue, 21 Feb 2006 11:32:11 +0000 (UTC)
"Bernd Jendrissek" <> wrote:

> Suppose I want to release some software but I either don't want to or
> cannot (my house burned down 10 years ago and I lost the source
> scenario) release source code for it.
> Is it still possible for (legal) recipients of my software to
> redistribute (potentially hex-hacked) copies under the GPL I grant
> them?

Yes. This would be similar to receiving a GPLed program written in
Intercal, for example. 

> My first instinct (and IANAL so it's most likely wrong; please tell me
> exactly how and why if so) is that it would be okay, because I would
> be the copyright holder and hence I get to define what the "preferred
> form" for modification is for licensees.  That I might have or might
> once have had a more convenient form is my private matter.  Or is it?

This is indeed my understanding of the rights of the copyright owner. 

> The reason I wonder is that there is still an awful lot of old
> software floating around that is still useful to some people, and for
> all I know the source code may be lost forever.  Supposing the
> copyright holder can be tracked down, and is willing to cooperate, is
> it conceivably possible to get all this stuff released under the GPL?

I would think so. The GPL is a workable license for abandonware, IMHO.

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

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