Granting permission.

Yonas Jongkind yonasj at
Wed Nov 7 16:51:11 UTC 2001

I have been lurking on this list for a while.

Recent mention of getting permission from the authors to re-license 
software got my attention.  I have been looking into this issue myself, 
and have found little information available and the waters quite muddy.

We would like to use the LGPL, and GPL licenses.  However we also want 
the flexibility to switch to a less restrictive license such as the MIT 
license later.  The GPL also prevents certain commercial uses.  For 
people who find this to be a problem, we would like to be able to offer 
them a different license whereby we can allow them to do what they want 
on a case by case basis.

Some people currently ask you to grant ownership of your source to them, 
so that they can relicense it if they want.  Here things seems to get 
tricky because it is not always clear when someone really has the right 
to assign this copyright.  On the GCC project it is actually quite 
difficult to get your changes accepted.  At my previous company we spent 
more than one year trying to get changes accepted -- shiny dollars and 

I would like  to use a simple agreement for the assignment of copyright 
where we can give back the changes.  On this surface this does not 
appear to make sense, but I believe that there is an analogy here.  If 
you purchase a stolen car -- and this is discovered -- then the state 
will give the car back to the original owner, and you will be out 
whatever you paid for the stolen car less what can be recovered from the 
crook. (Canadian Law)

Clearly with IP this is not that straight forward.

But could I make a straight forward assignment of copyright agreement 
for this project?  What pitfalls could there be surrounding "giving 
back" intellectual property?

Are there lawyers who specialize in this?  Our lawyer feels that he can 
figure it out, as he feels that is just more contract/copyright law, but 
to me these intellectual property and copyright issues seem to have some 
extra dimensions.

-- Yonas.

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