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Re: "Preferred form for making modifications"

From: Per Abrahamsen
Subject: Re: "Preferred form for making modifications"
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 09:04:35 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.110003 (No Gnus v0.3) Emacs/21.4 (gnu/linux)

"Bernd Jendrissek" <> writes:

> Is it still possible for (legal) recipients of my software to
> redistribute (potentially hex-hacked) copies under the GPL I grant them?
> 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. 

There are at least three correct answers to the question.  They are
no, yes and yes.

No, it is not you but the judge who gets to decide what the preferred
form is.

Yes, as the sole author, you can explicitly state "I distribute
this under the GPL, where the 'preferred form' is hex dumps".
Arguably that would no longer be the GPL though.

Yes, as the sole author, you are the only one with a case for suing
for copyright violation, as it is your copyright that is potentially
violated.  Which means that obeying your intentions is in practice
enough, whatever the actual license says.

> 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?

The GPL is especially created for ensuring that the users have access
to the source code.  For software where the source code is lost, I
suggest simply releasing it to the public domain, or under the PD like
MIT or BSD licenses.  The GPL is clearly the wrong tool for that
particular job.

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