Implications for switching licenses mid-stream

Chuck Swiger chuck at
Tue Apr 22 21:58:21 UTC 2008

On Apr 22, 2008, at 1:35 PM, Ben Tilly wrote:
> Arnoud Engelfriet 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?

We've had this discussion several times before.  :-)  If you reissue  
the work with nothing changed but the copyright statement, and the  
work itself has not been modified, IMHO no, that isn't a derivative  
work-- it's just a copy without any creative/expressive/meaningful-per- 
copyright-law changes.

(Arguably, it could be considered a de minimis change, perhaps.)

More importantly, altering a copyright without explicit permission  
would likely be considered a violation of USC 17 section 506c - e, or  
equivalent.  The first clause of BSD licenses state:

"1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
     notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer."

...which by no means constitutes permission for someone to change the  
existing copyright statement or license.


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