Partial OpenSource products/licenses?

Karsten M. Self kmself at
Thu Oct 3 17:19:27 UTC 2002

on Wed, Oct 02, 2002, Rick Moen (rick at wrote:
> Quoting John Cowan (jcowan at
> > You could, but "once GPL, always GPL"; there would be no way to
> > incorporate open improvements into the closed version.
> Requesting (and getting) an appropriate grant of permission from the 
> patch's copyright holder would seem to suffice.  In fact, some
> maintainers of GPLed codebases (e.g., Tripwire) don't accept patches
> without formal assignment of copyright. 


For a number of reasons, securing a copyright assignment can be a very
useful step, both for reasons of releasing code under other terms, and
to pursue copyright infringement actions (for which clear ownership of
copyright is very helpful).  Note that in the case of the FSF, it's an
actual _transfer_ of copyright, with rights granted back to the original
author.  Other organizations simply require that a grant of rights
sufficient to cover forseen needs be made, typically including the right
to make use of contributed code in versions of software released under
non-free license terms.

This is one of the areas of free software licensing (along with general
employment contracts for free software developers) which I feel is
highly underappreciated.  Licenses get much of the spotlight (and
deservedly), but ancillary agreements are being neglected.


Karsten M. Self <kmself at>
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
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