Implications for switching licenses mid-stream

John Cowan cowan at
Wed Apr 23 16:31:38 UTC 2008

Rick Moen scripsit:

> To quote Niven and Pournelle's Rod Blaine, "That turns out not to be 
> the case."  You are assuming that the project leader changing the
> licence terms on a collective work constitutes willful copyright
> infringement -- and, in your hypothetical, it seems doubtful to assert
> that it's necessarily copyright infringement of _any_ sort, for reasons
> cited by Catherine and Eric Raymond in the cited HOWTO.  As those
> authors point out, the project leader needs only to prevent causing
> actual (monetary) damages to collective-work contributors.

Distinguo.  Changing the *license* is one thing; changing the *copyright
notice* (the "Copyright 2008 by John Cowan") is another.  If you change
the license but leave the copyright notice intact, you are giving what
is not yours to give.  If you change the copyright notice, it is fraud.

John Cowan   cowan at
You cannot enter here.  Go back to the abyss prepared for you!  Go back!
Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master.  Go! --Gandalf

More information about the License-discuss mailing list