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Re: Can a recipients rights under GNU GPL be revoked?


Ivan Ivanov wrote:
> Yes: The linux devs can rescind their license grant. GPLv2 is a bare
> license and is revocable by the grantor.

Do you mean

The GPL does not say that it can be rescinded at the will of the grantor.
In GPLv3 it is explicitely stated:
  2. Basic Permissions.

  All rights granted under this License are granted for the term of
copyright on the Program, and are irrevocable provided the stated
conditions are met.  This License explicitly affirms your unlimited
permission to run the unmodified Program.  The output from running a
covered work is covered by this License only if the output, given its
content, constitutes a covered work.  This License acknowledges your
rights of fair use or other equivalent, as provided by copyright law.

Note the word "irrevocable". So i think GPLv3 is safe.

In GPLv2, the preamble states intentions which clearly contradict a
reserved right to revoke the once given license. The TERMS AND CONDITIONS
paragraph 4 say that if "you" lose the license rights because of violations,
"parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License
will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in
full compliance".
This expresses a clear promise not to revoke the license from well behaving
license takers.

Next the article quotes a conversation with Eben Moglen, lawyer of the
Free Software Foundation.
The only substance i see there is a reference to the principle that gifts
can be demanded back under some circumstances. In german law it is because
of the giver becomming needy or because the receiver shows outraging
unthankfulness (e.g. an attempt to murder the giver).

I sincerely doubt that GPL is a gift in the sense of german BGB 516 - 534.
Especially paragraph 517 says that waiving income in favor of somebody
else is not such a gift. The large number of license takers makes the
situation quite different from the one expected by german law.

Further a demand to return the gift because of neediness would depend
on a binding offer from a third party to pay money if the software is
not under GPL any more. I think not even Microsoft Inc. would make such
an offer, nowadays.

Have a nice day :)