Licenses on patches / hacks to GPL'd software

John Cowan cowan at
Sun Aug 8 16:00:09 UTC 2004

Andrew van der Stock scripsit:

> I believe the first to be a derived work. The other two? What is the usual
> position in relation to licenses for patches and the GPL? 

The usual position is that a patch in and of itself (that is, the actual
output of 'diff') is not a derivative work, or if it is, it makes only
fair use of the original.  The original and the patch may be distributed
separately under separate licenses; as long as both are free software/
open source licenses, and only the end user applies the patch, the
result is unproblematic.


John Cowan  cowan at
We want more school houses and less jails; more books and less arsenals;
more learning and less vice; more constant work and less crime; more
leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of
the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.  --Samuel Gompers

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