Re: Can a recipients rights under GNU GPL be revoked?
- Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2019 07:02:32 +1100
- From: Ben Finney <bignose@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: Re: Can a recipients rights under GNU GPL be revoked?
> […] I believe that the original author of a package could do something
> like create further modifications to the code and create a non-free
> version of the code.
Yes. The _Copyleft and the GNU General Public License_ guide
<URL:https://copyleft.org/guide/> addresses that possibility:
The GPL is irrevocable in the sense that once a copyright holder
grants rights for someone to copy, modify and redistribute the
software under terms of the GPL, they cannot later revoke that
grant. Since the GPL has no provision allowing the copyright holder
to take such a prerogative, the license is granted as long as the
copyright remains in effect. The copyright holders have the right
to relicense the same work under different licenses […], or to stop
distributing the GPLv2’d version (assuming GPLv2 §3(b) was never
used), but they may not revoke the rights under GPLv2 already
In fact, when an entity loses their right to copy, modify and
distribute GPL’d software, it is because of their *own actions*,
not that of the copyright holder. The copyright holder does not
decide when GPLv2 §4 termination occurs (if ever); rather, the
actions of the licensee determine that.
So, the copyright holders can make new releases without granting GPL
freedoms. But they have no way to revoke the GPL freedoms already
granted to a person in a specific past release of the work.
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