For Approval: GPLv3

Chris Travers chris at
Sat Aug 25 18:50:21 UTC 2007

Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
> Chris Travers <chris at> writes:
>> As I understand it, if any part of the GPL v3 (particularly the
>> compulsion to relicense) were found to be a misuse of copyright law,
>> it would provide a defense against an attempt to enforce copyrights on
>> the works we create.
> How can the GPLv3 possibly cause copyright misuse, considering that
> the GPLv3 does not restrict any rights granted by copyright?
It does, though.  It forces programmers who own copyrights to cede to 
distributors the right to drop permissions not granted by the GPL v3.  
These permissions can be dropped under the GPL v3 by anyone who merely 
conveys the software, and they can be dropped on code that neither the 
original author nor the distributor owns any copyrights to because they 
don't affect derivative works but merely downstream distribution.
> The GPLv3 does not compel anybody to relicense anything.  It just says
> that *if* you redistribute, you must not impose further restrictions
> on the code you distribute.
No.  The opening 2 paragraphs of Section 7 grant anyone who conveys the 
software the right to remove permissions beyond those of the GPL to any 
part of the work.  Since the Corresponding Source must be under the same 
license, this means any file in the Corresponding Source either.  And 
all without the creation of any new copyrighted works...

This seems along the lines of using copyright to extend the rights 
granted beyond those of mere copyright.  IANAL though.  The GPL v2 could 
be interpreted to avoid this problem.  The GPL v3 cannot.

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers
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