[License-discuss] Changes made by derivative works

Ben Reser ben at reser.org
Thu Jan 31 16:13:02 UTC 2013

On Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 2:46 AM, Gervase Markham <gerv at mozilla.org> wrote:
> On 31/01/13 10:37, David Woolley wrote:
>> In the case of GPL one is it mainly meeting the minimum requirements for
>> establishing the copyright status of the file when used outside of the
>> original application.  Such re-use is fundamental to the GPL concept,
>> even if many open source developers only think of their programs as ever
>> being used as a whole.
> That's just not true. The entire _point_ of open source licenses is that
> you can use the code without having to care who owns the copyright,
> because the license under which they have released it gives you all the
> rights you need.

With the GPL that's pretty much absolutely true.  If someone modifies
a GPL file and distributes it you can pretty safely assume that the
derivative work is GPL licensed.  As brought up in other parts of this
thread there are things like work for hire that make that more
difficult, but in general I'd say that the issue there is on the
distributor not on the person relying on the license.

However, we're not talking about the GPL here.  We're talking about a
forked version of the Apache Software License 2.0 that he wants to
change the book keeping clause.  Both ASL 2.0 and this new license do
NOT require that your modifications be licensed under the same
license.  Resulting in the need to know if someone has modified the
file for copyright purposes.  If you don't know who modified the file,
good luck trying to figure out what the license is on those
modifications.  I'd expect most of the time beyond just putting
"Changed by Fred Bloggs" the notification is more along the lines of
"Changed by Fred Bloggs and licensed under the ASL 2.0".

That's not to say that if there is attribution and no explanation of
the licensing that it'll be easy to find the person and get them to
work with you.  But at least you have a chance of doing it.

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