Implications for switching licenses mid-stream

Wilson, Andrew andrew.wilson at
Tue Apr 22 21:54:18 UTC 2008

Ben Tilly wrote: 
> arnoud at wrote:
>>  This is probably legal nitpicking, but I don't see sublicensing or
>>  relicensing rights in the BSD license, so I'm not sure that I can
>>  simply apply a new license to a BSD codebase as such. For derivative
>>  works, sure. But for the unmodified codebase?
> If I reissue the work with nothing changed by the copyright statement,
> the work has been modified so isn't it now a derivative work?

This question straddles the interesting line between what 
licenses allow versus what the developer community expects in
terms of etiquette.  The new-BSD license probably allows this
de minimus definition of a derivative -- and I have in fact seen
such code "in the wild" where BSD code is passed through
unaltered, save for the addition of a GPL header -- but it could be 
interpreted as a "hostile takeover" if the original BSD copyright 
owners are not in favor of creating a GPL-licensed variant.
I would tread carefully here.

If the GPL-licensed variant has substantive new features, of course,
this question becomes moot (the GPL version is clearly a fork).

IANAL, TINLA, usual disclaimers.

Andy Wilson
Intel open source technology center

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