Adding additional licences to GPL

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Strangely Placed

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Jan 14, 2003, 4:26:37 AM1/14/03
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Hi folks

First, my apologies if I'm off-topic. A Google search suggested this
as a likely newsgroup for my question, but I'm very willing to be
re-directed to a more suitable group.

In August 2000, Sams published a book, "C Unleashed", of which about
340 pages or so were basically my fault. As part of that project, I
wrote a fair amount of source code which appeared on the accompanying
CD-ROM. My source, which is also available at
<http://users.powernet.co.uk/eton/unleashed/code/>, was released under
the GPL.

My question is simple. I do short-term contract programming for a
living. From time to time, I encounter situations in which it seems
appropriate to use the code from that book, in programs I write for my
customers; these programs might be used internally, or sold
externally, or both.

Up to now, I have refrained from doing so, because I don't want to
"pollute" their code with the GPL. (More to the point, they don't want
me to!)

But, on the other hand, I actually /wrote/ the code in question, and
it seems to me that it should be up to me whether someone is free to
use it (no, I don't want a veto - quite the reverse, in fact!).

What I want to do is allow specific, named companies to use (but not
modify) this GPL'd code (which I wrote, remember) without their being
affected by the GPL. These companies would basically be those I've
worked for in the past (call it gratitude, if you like) and my current
customer, and would in due course include companies for whom I will
work in the future. The idea is that I would add a comment to this
effect to each of the sources, possibly with some kind of hash of the
names included (to make unauthorised additions to the list
detectable).

Does the GPL allow me to do this?

(If it doesn't, I'm afraid I'm very unlikely to release any more code
under GPL.)

--
Richard Heathfield
bin...@eton.powernet.co.uk
http://users.powernet.co.uk/eton

Donn Miller

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Jan 14, 2003, 4:34:02 AM1/14/03
to
Strangely Placed wrote:

> My question is simple. I do short-term contract programming for a
> living. From time to time, I encounter situations in which it seems
> appropriate to use the code from that book, in programs I write for my
> customers; these programs might be used internally, or sold
> externally, or both.
>
> Up to now, I have refrained from doing so, because I don't want to
> "pollute" their code with the GPL. (More to the point, they don't want
> me to!)
>
> But, on the other hand, I actually /wrote/ the code in question, and
> it seems to me that it should be up to me whether someone is free to
> use it (no, I don't want a veto - quite the reverse, in fact!).
>
> What I want to do is allow specific, named companies to use (but not
> modify) this GPL'd code (which I wrote, remember) without their being
> affected by the GPL. These companies would basically be those I've
> worked for in the past (call it gratitude, if you like) and my current
> customer, and would in due course include companies for whom I will
> work in the future. The idea is that I would add a comment to this
> effect to each of the sources, possibly with some kind of hash of the
> names included (to make unauthorised additions to the list
> detectable).
>
> Does the GPL allow me to do this?

I think your best bet is to have a dual license, one under GPL, and
another version under an alternative license (which sounds to me like
you'd want to use the BSD or MIT license).

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David Brown

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Jan 14, 2003, 5:20:52 AM1/14/03
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"Strangely Placed" <bin...@eton.powernet.co.uk> wrote in message
news:acec90c3.03011...@posting.google.com...

It's a matter of copyright ownership. If you own the copyright to the code,
you can release it under any licence you want, and you can re-release it
under different licences. There is not the slightest problem with giving
out the code to any one you want, using any licence you want. You can't
change the licence on copies of the code already out there, but you can
change it on new, identical copies of the code.

If you don't own the copyright anymore (for example, if the book publisher
owns the copyright), however, then it is no longer your code, and you can't
re-licence it. The fact that you wrote it is just coincidence. Of course,
the publisher is probably going to be happy to make some arrangement with
you, but you have to have their permission if they now own the copyright.
If not, and you don't own the copyright, then you are stuck with having to
do a clean-room re-write of the code.

For future, just be careful with copyrights. If you own the copyright, you
have full control and can use the gpl, bsd, proprietry, or whatever
licence(s) you want. But if you want to sell the copyright while retaining
unrestrainted use of the code yourself, make sure you know where you stand
first. If in doubt, bsd-type licences may be "free'er".

There is nothing special about the gpl here, of course - exactly the same
applies with any licence, whether open-source or closed-source.


Jon Portnoy

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Jan 14, 2003, 9:30:51 AM1/14/03
to

Keep in mind that I am not a lawyer...

In article <acec90c3.03011...@posting.google.com>, Strangely Placed wrote:
> Hi folks
>
> First, my apologies if I'm off-topic. A Google search suggested this
> as a likely newsgroup for my question, but I'm very willing to be
> re-directed to a more suitable group.

gnu.misc.discuss is a good one, but not nearly as many people read it.
You're more likely to get a speedy reply here (if you can stand the
trolls...)

>
> In August 2000, Sams published a book, "C Unleashed", of which about
> 340 pages or so were basically my fault. As part of that project, I
> wrote a fair amount of source code which appeared on the accompanying
> CD-ROM. My source, which is also available at
><http://users.powernet.co.uk/eton/unleashed/code/>, was released under
> the GPL.
>
> My question is simple. I do short-term contract programming for a
> living. From time to time, I encounter situations in which it seems
> appropriate to use the code from that book, in programs I write for my
> customers; these programs might be used internally, or sold
> externally, or both.
>
> Up to now, I have refrained from doing so, because I don't want to
> "pollute" their code with the GPL. (More to the point, they don't want
> me to!)
>
> But, on the other hand, I actually /wrote/ the code in question, and
> it seems to me that it should be up to me whether someone is free to
> use it (no, I don't want a veto - quite the reverse, in fact!).

If you are the sole copyright owner, you can decide what you want to do
with your code. You can release it to someone else under a different
license with different terms. If the code you use contains code someone
else wrote (and has the copyright for), it gets a little tricker - you'd
need their consent too.

>
> What I want to do is allow specific, named companies to use (but not
> modify) this GPL'd code (which I wrote, remember) without their being
> affected by the GPL. These companies would basically be those I've
> worked for in the past (call it gratitude, if you like) and my current
> customer, and would in due course include companies for whom I will
> work in the future. The idea is that I would add a comment to this
> effect to each of the sources, possibly with some kind of hash of the
> names included (to make unauthorised additions to the list
> detectable).

Sure, just write up some license terms and re-license the code you give
them under those terms.

>
> Does the GPL allow me to do this?
>

No, but copyright law in most places does, since you can re-license it
any way you want.

> (If it doesn't, I'm afraid I'm very unlikely to release any more code
> under GPL.)
>

That would be a shame. The GPL is a handy device for ensuring freedom.

--
Jon Portnoy

Strangely Placed

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Jan 14, 2003, 10:34:26 AM1/14/03
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"David Brown" <da...@no.westcontrol.spam.com> wrote in message news:<b00o3i$ti0$1...@news.netpower.no>...

> "Strangely Placed" <bin...@eton.powernet.co.uk> wrote in message
> news:acec90c3.03011...@posting.google.com...

<snip>

> > What I want to do is allow specific, named companies to use (but not
> > modify) this GPL'd code (which I wrote, remember) without their being
> > affected by the GPL.

<snip>

> > Does the GPL allow me to do this?
>

> It's a matter of copyright ownership. If you own the copyright to the code,
> you can release it under any licence you want, and you can re-release it
> under different licences. There is not the slightest problem with giving
> out the code to any one you want, using any licence you want. You can't
> change the licence on copies of the code already out there, but you can
> change it on new, identical copies of the code.

An excellent answer, and along the lines I had not only hoped for but
expected...

> If you don't own the copyright anymore (for example, if the book publisher
> owns the copyright), however, then it is no longer your code, and you can't
> re-licence it. The fact that you wrote it is just coincidence.

Oops. A grey area after all. I think I retain copyright of the code
itself, but I'll check with Sams.

Thanks.

<snip>

--
Richard Heathfield

Tim Smith

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Jan 14, 2003, 2:02:32 PM1/14/03
to
In article <acec90c3.03011...@posting.google.com>, Strangely Placed
wrote:
> In August 2000, Sams published a book, "C Unleashed", of which about 340
> pages or so were basically my fault. As part of that project, I wrote a fair
> amount of source code which appeared on the accompanying CD-ROM. My source,
> which is also available at
><http://users.powernet.co.uk/eton/unleashed/code/>, was released under the
>GPL.
...

> But, on the other hand, I actually /wrote/ the code in question, and
> it seems to me that it should be up to me whether someone is free to
> use it (no, I don't want a veto - quite the reverse, in fact!).

First we have to make an assumption, and that is that your contract with
Sams didn't have anything in at that assigned the copyright on your code to
them. I believe most book contracts do NOT work that way, so you should be
OK on that point, but I wanted to mention it for completeness.

So, we will assume that you own the copyright on your code. What that means
is that there are certain things people are not allowed to do with your code
without your permission.

What you did when you released it under the GPL was to say to the whole
world: "I give you permission to use my code in certain ways that copyright
law says you need permission for, provided you follow the terms of the GPL".

That does *NOT* in any way stop you from giving people permission to use it
under different terms, so it is perfectly fine for you to let your clients
use the code, and release it in binary-only form in their products, and
stuff like that.

The only way GPL might be a problem for you, as the copyright owner, is that
if one of your clients only wants to do things with the code that would be
allowed by GPL, they could just go grab the GPL release and use that,
instead of paying you for a less restrictive license.

Note also that if other people make changes to the GPL'ed version, you can't
take those changes and put them in the non-GPL'ed version (without getting
explicit permission).

--
Evidence Eliminator is worthless: "www.evidence-eliminator-sucks.com"
--Tim Smith

Nigel Feltham

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Jan 14, 2003, 2:29:00 PM1/14/03
to
Donn Miller wrote:

Or maybe a custom closed-source licence if you only want your customers to
use your code and not redistribute it (in other words you keep the
distribution rights to the source you give you customer - you can still
give them the rights to do whatever they like with the resulting binaries
but ban them from distributing the source).

In other words you don't have to stick with any currently available licence
but can get you own written to match each situation if you're sure you own
the copyright on the code (and not the publisher of the book). You have
this right to change the licence for every copy of the source you give away
if you want (though neither you or whoever receives the software can change
the licence on copies already distributed).


--
begin sig
Not the moderator of Comp.Os.Linux.Advocacy
It's unmoderated and anyone who claims otherwise is a clueless moron - this
includes you kerke the jerke.

Jim Richardson

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Jan 14, 2003, 3:13:30 PM1/14/03
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Hash: SHA1

On 14 Jan 2003 01:26:37 -0800,


If it's your code, you can do what you want with it, including licence
it under another licence. If the code includes code from other GPL
software that you didn't write, then you need to contact the authors of
that software to get their permission to use it in a non-GPL manner. To
reiterate, if you wrote it all, you can do with it as you see fit.
Releasing it under the GPL places no restriction on what you can do with
the code. You can use it anywhere else you want to, it's your code. The
only restriction would be if you used some other person's GPL'd code.

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--
Jim Richardson http://www.eskimo.com/~warlock
A bad day, is when aliens attack, the dog bites you, and your boss tells
you that the new client wants to make a few changes before delivery.
Linux, super computers, office computers, or home computers, it works.

Donn Miller

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Jan 15, 2003, 12:17:14 AM1/15/03
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Nigel Feltham wrote:

> Or maybe a custom closed-source licence if you only want your customers to
> use your code and not redistribute it (in other words you keep the
> distribution rights to the source you give you customer - you can still
> give them the rights to do whatever they like with the resulting binaries
> but ban them from distributing the source).
>
> In other words you don't have to stick with any currently available licence
> but can get you own written to match each situation if you're sure you own
> the copyright on the code (and not the publisher of the book). You have
> this right to change the licence for every copy of the source you give away
> if you want (though neither you or whoever receives the software can change
> the licence on copies already distributed).

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, actually. For code that I may
release, I was thinking about simply drawing up my own license, so I can
have greater control of setting the terms. Then, I could base my
license on ideas from the existing licenses out there, such as GPL
and/or BSDL. But the downside to this is that I think the license
should be something people are already familiar with, so they won't have
any trouble understanding the terms, and compatibility with already
existing open source software.

The main problem I have with the BSD license is that the Regents of the
University of California is implicated as the owner of the license. So,
what happens if some people violate the license? Will the University of
California's lawyers be up to their armpits in lawsuits? The Free
Software Foundation is a seperate entity from any university, and seems
to have a greater capacity for dealing with potential legal problems.
On the other hand, don't the Regents of the University of California
have other matters to tend to besides those dealing with open source
lawsuits? I think the BSD license should be taken over by some open
source group. Don't want tuition going up at Berkeley because some
people are violating a software license. :-)

Byron A Jeff

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Jan 16, 2003, 5:24:13 PM1/16/03
to
In article <acec90c3.03011...@posting.google.com>,
Strangely Placed <bin...@eton.powernet.co.uk> wrote:
-Hi folks
-
-First, my apologies if I'm off-topic. A Google search suggested this
-as a likely newsgroup for my question, but I'm very willing to be
-re-directed to a more suitable group.

gnu.misc.discuss may be better. I'll add it to the newsgroup list and
direct followups there.

-
-In August 2000, Sams published a book, "C Unleashed", of which about
-340 pages or so were basically my fault. As part of that project, I
-wrote a fair amount of source code which appeared on the accompanying
-CD-ROM. My source, which is also available at
-<http://users.powernet.co.uk/eton/unleashed/code/>, was released under
-the GPL.

Cool.

-
-My question is simple. I do short-term contract programming for a
-living. From time to time, I encounter situations in which it seems
-appropriate to use the code from that book, in programs I write for my
-customers; these programs might be used internally, or sold
-externally, or both.

OK.

-
-Up to now, I have refrained from doing so, because I don't want to
-"pollute" their code with the GPL. (More to the point, they don't want
-me to!)

Understood.

-
-But, on the other hand, I actually /wrote/ the code in question, and
-it seems to me that it should be up to me whether someone is free to
-use it (no, I don't want a veto - quite the reverse, in fact!).

Only one question. Are you still in fact the copyright owner of the code? Or
during the course of the publication of the book did you ever assign copyright
to the publisher. For the sake of argument let's say that you are still the
copyright owner.

-
-What I want to do is allow specific, named companies to use (but not
-modify) this GPL'd code (which I wrote, remember) without their being
-affected by the GPL. These companies would basically be those I've
-worked for in the past (call it gratitude, if you like) and my current
-customer, and would in due course include companies for whom I will
-work in the future. The idea is that I would add a comment to this
-effect to each of the sources, possibly with some kind of hash of the
-names included (to make unauthorised additions to the list
-detectable).
-
-Does the GPL allow me to do this?

No. The GPL specifically prohibits such activity. Anyone you distribute GPL
code has the right to modify and redistribute the code. The "cost" is that
any code that is integrated with that code must also be GPLed.

So back to the other issue. It's your code. As the owner, the license doesn't
apply to you.

So simply reissue the code under a different license stating that only
certain individuals can use it, without modification, and without any
GPL style coloring effect of code that is added to it.

Multiple licensing is the ticket here.

BAJ

-(If it doesn't, I'm afraid I'm very unlikely to release any more code
-under GPL.)

It doesn't. But it doesn't affect you as the author. Now note that no one else
can rerelease the code under a different license. That right is reserved to
you as the code author. So if anyone acquires that code via the CD or the
website (or the book for that matter) would be bound to the terms of the GPL
in terms of using that code.

But once again, those rules don't apply to you because it's your code. So you
can release the code under 50 different licenses at the same time if you wish.

The only thing that you cannot do is retract the GPL from the code that's
already out there. Once a user obtains code under the GPL, they have the
right to modify and redistribute the version that they obtained even if you
pulled the license from future versions of the code.

Hope this helps,

BAJ

Isaac

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Jan 17, 2003, 2:05:32 PM1/17/03
to
On 16 Jan 2003 17:24:13 -0500, Byron A Jeff <by...@cc.gatech.edu> wrote:
> In article <acec90c3.03011...@posting.google.com>,
> Strangely Placed <bin...@eton.powernet.co.uk> wrote:
> -Hi folks
> -
> -What I want to do is allow specific, named companies to use (but not
> -modify) this GPL'd code (which I wrote, remember) without their being
> -affected by the GPL. These companies would basically be those I've
> -worked for in the past (call it gratitude, if you like) and my current
> -customer, and would in due course include companies for whom I will
> -work in the future. The idea is that I would add a comment to this
> -effect to each of the sources, possibly with some kind of hash of the
> -names included (to make unauthorised additions to the list
> -detectable).
> -
> -Does the GPL allow me to do this?
>
> No. The GPL specifically prohibits such activity. Anyone you distribute GPL
> code has the right to modify and redistribute the code. The "cost" is that
> any code that is integrated with that code must also be GPLed.

Just to clarify because I think you got everything right. I think the
answer to the poster's question is really yes. He can modify the sources
of the code to include any license he wants since he wrote the code. The
only thing he really is not allowed to modify is the text of the GPL.

Of course the code isn't really being distributed under the GPL any more.
But that merely means that he shouldn't distribute the "Copying" file
with the code.

I would find quite odious a license that gave me source but didn't
allow me to modify that source. I can understand in some situations
not allowing modifications to be distributed, but not allowing someone
to modify the code for use on their own systems doesn't seem like a
reasonable idea. Would that mean that they couldn't even fix a bug
without permission?

Isaac

Barry Margolin

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Jan 17, 2003, 2:53:03 PM1/17/03
to
In article <slrnb2gkv...@latveria.castledoom.org>,

Isaac <is...@latveria.castledoom.org> wrote:
>I would find quite odious a license that gave me source but didn't
>allow me to modify that source. I can understand in some situations
>not allowing modifications to be distributed, but not allowing someone
>to modify the code for use on their own systems doesn't seem like a
>reasonable idea. Would that mean that they couldn't even fix a bug
>without permission?

Back in the old days, many computer companies provided their OS source code
to customers in non-machine-readable form, e.g. microfiche. This was
useful to customers in finding workarounds for problems, or understanding
how the software worked so they could optimize applications. But
enhancements and modifications still had to be done by the vendor.

If the author sells service contracts, prohibiting customers from making
their own bug fixes is a way of increasing the value of those contracts.

Note also that if the application comes with any kind of warranty (yes, I
know those are practically nonexistent in the software industry), it should
certainly be voided if the customer makes any local modifications to the
software. The author certainly can't be held responsible if it's not all
his code.

--
Barry Margolin, bar...@genuity.net
Genuity, Woburn, MA
*** DON'T SEND TECHNICAL QUESTIONS DIRECTLY TO ME, post them to newsgroups.
Please DON'T copy followups to me -- I'll assume it wasn't posted to the group.

Isaac

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Jan 17, 2003, 3:19:54 PM1/17/03
to
On Fri, 17 Jan 2003 19:53:03 GMT, Barry Margolin <bar...@genuity.net> wrote:
> In article <slrnb2gkv...@latveria.castledoom.org>,
> Isaac <is...@latveria.castledoom.org> wrote:
>>I would find quite odious a license that gave me source but didn't
>>allow me to modify that source. I can understand in some situations
>>not allowing modifications to be distributed, but not allowing someone
>>to modify the code for use on their own systems doesn't seem like a
>>reasonable idea. Would that mean that they couldn't even fix a bug
>>without permission?
>
> Back in the old days, many computer companies provided their OS source code
> to customers in non-machine-readable form, e.g. microfiche. This was
> useful to customers in finding workarounds for problems, or understanding
> how the software worked so they could optimize applications. But
> enhancements and modifications still had to be done by the vendor.

I've often pondered whether the adaptations allowed under Sec 117 of
the copyright act would allow the customer to go ahead and make those
modfications without permission. But that's way off topic.

>
> If the author sells service contracts, prohibiting customers from making
> their own bug fixes is a way of increasing the value of those contracts.

"Increase the value" eh? Sounds pretty odious to me.

>
> Note also that if the application comes with any kind of warranty (yes, I
> know those are practically nonexistent in the software industry), it should
> certainly be voided if the customer makes any local modifications to the
> software. The author certainly can't be held responsible if it's not all
> his code.

I think this argument has the refutation built in. I'd be surprised
if the author was going to warrant code that he's giving away.

For the code in question, I think a customer using the code in house
should simply grab the GPL version as it seems the gratuitous modification
restricted version seems to offers very few real advantages. Maybe the
author really wants to restrict the distribution of modified code?

Isaac

Barry Margolin

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Jan 17, 2003, 3:30:21 PM1/17/03
to
In article <slrnb2gpb...@latveria.castledoom.org>,

Isaac <is...@latveria.castledoom.org> wrote:
>For the code in question, I think a customer using the code in house
>should simply grab the GPL version as it seems the gratuitous modification
>restricted version seems to offers very few real advantages. Maybe the
>author really wants to restrict the distribution of modified code?

I got the impression that the OP was going to use the code in question as
*part* of projects that he was doing for his consulting customers. So the
actual code they receive won't be identical to the GPL version, but it will
incorporate pieces that are.

So the customers could certainly download the GPL code from somewhere, and
they'd be able to do anything with it that any other recipient can do. But
the contract code would still be a totally separate work, which they still
couldn't modify.

Isaac

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Jan 17, 2003, 5:04:33 PM1/17/03
to
On Fri, 17 Jan 2003 20:30:21 GMT, Barry Margolin <bar...@genuity.net> wrote:
> In article <slrnb2gpb...@latveria.castledoom.org>,
> Isaac <is...@latveria.castledoom.org> wrote:
>>For the code in question, I think a customer using the code in house
>>should simply grab the GPL version as it seems the gratuitous modification
>>restricted version seems to offers very few real advantages. Maybe the
>>author really wants to restrict the distribution of modified code?
>
> I got the impression that the OP was going to use the code in question as
> *part* of projects that he was doing for his consulting customers. So the
> actual code they receive won't be identical to the GPL version, but it will
> incorporate pieces that are.

Good point. I wonder what GPL restrictions that OP plans to relieve
his customers of.

Isaac

Barry Margolin

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Jan 17, 2003, 7:27:12 PM1/17/03
to
In article <slrnb2gvf...@latveria.castledoom.org>,

The GPLed code sounds fairly generic and uninteresting -- he said that it's
code that was included in a programming textbook ("C Unleashed"). I expect
they're a library of common high-level functions.

The stuff he wants to protect is presumably the applications that he's
being hired to write. These are probably specialized applications that he
can demand big bucks for, so he doesn't want his customers undercutting
him.

Isaac

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Jan 17, 2003, 8:58:25 PM1/17/03
to
On Sat, 18 Jan 2003 00:27:12 GMT, Barry Margolin <bar...@genuity.net> wrote:
> The GPLed code sounds fairly generic and uninteresting -- he said that it's
> code that was included in a programming textbook ("C Unleashed"). I expect
> they're a library of common high-level functions.
>
> The stuff he wants to protect is presumably the applications that he's
> being hired to write. These are probably specialized applications that he
> can demand big bucks for, so he doesn't want his customers undercutting
> him.

I thought he said that he hadn't been using the stuff from the book because
it was GPLed... If he was talking about actually protecting something else
his question doesn't seem to make sense.

Isaac

Byron A Jeff

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Jan 19, 2003, 9:38:47 AM1/19/03
to
-On 16 Jan 2003 17:24:13 -0500, Byron A Jeff <by...@cc.gatech.edu> wrote:
-> In article <acec90c3.03011...@posting.google.com>,
-> Strangely Placed <bin...@eton.powernet.co.uk> wrote:
-> -Hi folks
-> -

-> -What I want to do is allow specific, named companies to use (but not
-> -modify) this GPL'd code (which I wrote, remember) without their being
-> -affected by the GPL. These companies would basically be those I've
-> -worked for in the past (call it gratitude, if you like) and my current
-> -customer, and would in due course include companies for whom I will
-> -work in the future. The idea is that I would add a comment to this
-> -effect to each of the sources, possibly with some kind of hash of the
-> -names included (to make unauthorised additions to the list
-> -detectable).
-> -

-> -Does the GPL allow me to do this?
->
-> No. The GPL specifically prohibits such activity. Anyone you distribute GPL
-> code has the right to modify and redistribute the code. The "cost" is that
-> any code that is integrated with that code must also be GPLed.
-
-Just to clarify because I think you got everything right. I think the
-answer to the poster's question is really yes. He can modify the sources
-of the code to include any license he wants since he wrote the code. The
-only thing he really is not allowed to modify is the text of the GPL.

No. He asked if the GPL allows him to further restrict in such a way that
modifications cannot be redistributed or modified. The answer is a flat no.
Even for the original author under the GPL.

-
-Of course the code isn't really being distributed under the GPL any more.

Exactly. As the author he has the right to use any number of licenses. But he
couldn't do it under the GPL even if he is the author.

-But that merely means that he shouldn't distribute the "Copying" file
-with the code.

No. He couldn't do what he wanted under the GPL at all. So he'd have to issue
a new license.

-
-I would find quite odious a license that gave me source but didn't
-allow me to modify that source. I can understand in some situations
-not allowing modifications to be distributed, but not allowing someone
-to modify the code for use on their own systems doesn't seem like a
-reasonable idea. Would that mean that they couldn't even fix a bug
-without permission?

Correct. A "Look but don't touch" license is kind of a waste of time.

BAJ

David Kastrup

unread,
Jan 19, 2003, 10:20:33 AM1/19/03
to

Of course not. a license is something that covers a transaction. The
original author is free to distribute his own software under GPL with
additional restrictions. This is equivalent to distributing his
software under the condition that each redistribution has to include
a free winged pig. In short, further restricting distribution
effectively kills any provisions the GPL does because the GPL then
commits suicide and says it can't be made to apply on redistribution.

The original author may choose such terms. It would be pointless.
The GPL would in that case just be dead paper prohibiting any
circulation. No redistributor may legally do something like that, but
the original author can.

It would be pretty much misleading, however.

--
David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

Isaac

unread,
Jan 19, 2003, 3:16:48 PM1/19/03
to
On 19 Jan 2003 09:38:47 -0500, Byron A Jeff <by...@cc.gatech.edu> wrote:
> In article <slrnb2gkv...@latveria.castledoom.org>,
> Isaac <is...@latveria.castledoom.org> wrote:
> -> -
> -> -Does the GPL allow me to do this?
> ->
> -> No. The GPL specifically prohibits such activity. Anyone you distribute GPL
> -> code has the right to modify and redistribute the code. The "cost" is that
> -> any code that is integrated with that code must also be GPLed.
> -
> -Just to clarify because I think you got everything right. I think the
> -answer to the poster's question is really yes. He can modify the sources
> -of the code to include any license he wants since he wrote the code. The
> -only thing he really is not allowed to modify is the text of the GPL.
>
> No. He asked if the GPL allows him to further restrict in such a way that
> modifications cannot be redistributed or modified. The answer is a flat no.
> Even for the original author under the GPL.

I think you are arguing a semantic point. The original question could
also be interpreted as asking whether he could release code under a new
license. Your answer was correct for your interpretation of the
question, and mine is correct for my interpretation of the question.

Did you skip over the point where I said you got the answer right?

Isaac

Barry Margolin

unread,
Jan 20, 2003, 12:26:46 PM1/20/03
to
In article <slrnb2hd6...@latveria.castledoom.org>,

He said "up to now" he hadn't been using the stuff in the book. The point
of his question seemed to be was whether he *could* use that stuff in a
custom application without forcing the entire application to be GPLed.

And the answer is that if he owns the copyright on the components, he can
do whatever he wants with them.

Isaac

unread,
Jan 20, 2003, 2:18:29 PM1/20/03
to
On Mon, 20 Jan 2003 17:26:46 GMT, Barry Margolin <bar...@genuity.net> wrote:
> In article <slrnb2hd6...@latveria.castledoom.org>,
> Isaac <is...@latveria.castledoom.org> wrote:
>
> He said "up to now" he hadn't been using the stuff in the book. The point
> of his question seemed to be was whether he *could* use that stuff in a
> custom application without forcing the entire application to be GPLed.
>
> And the answer is that if he owns the copyright on the components, he can
> do whatever he wants with them.

Below is one thing he said he wanted to do. IMO if it means what you say
he meant he picked a real awkward way of saying it.

> -What I want to do is allow specific, named companies to use (but not
> -modify) this GPL'd code (which I wrote, remember) without their being
> -affected by the GPL. These companies would basically be those I've
> -worked for in the past (call it gratitude, if you like) and my current
> -customer, and would in due course include companies for whom I will
> -work in the future. The idea is that I would add a comment to this
> -effect to each of the sources, possibly with some kind of hash of the
> -names included (to make unauthorised additions to the list
> -detectable).
> -
> -Does the GPL allow me to do this?

It sure looks to me like he wants to let companies use the GPL'd code
out of gratitude or in the hopes of generating good will. Elsewhere he
does say that he has avoided using the code in his programs, so it is
appropriate to speak to that question as well.

Isaac

Barry Margolin

unread,
Jan 20, 2003, 3:46:03 PM1/20/03
to
In article <slrnb2ois...@latveria.castledoom.org>,

Isaac <is...@latveria.castledoom.org> wrote:
>On Mon, 20 Jan 2003 17:26:46 GMT, Barry Margolin <bar...@genuity.net> wrote:
>> In article <slrnb2hd6...@latveria.castledoom.org>,
>> Isaac <is...@latveria.castledoom.org> wrote:
>>
>> He said "up to now" he hadn't been using the stuff in the book. The point
>> of his question seemed to be was whether he *could* use that stuff in a
>> custom application without forcing the entire application to be GPLed.
>>
>> And the answer is that if he owns the copyright on the components, he can
>> do whatever he wants with them.
>
>Below is one thing he said he wanted to do. IMO if it means what you say
>he meant he picked a real awkward way of saying it.
>
>> -What I want to do is allow specific, named companies to use (but not
>> -modify) this GPL'd code (which I wrote, remember) without their being
>> -affected by the GPL.

OK, I missed that aspect of it, so now I agree with your interpretation.

I supposed these companies make and sell proprietary software, so he wants
to allow them to incorporate his code into their software if they want,
without *them* having to open-source their code.

He's basically giving them two ways of using his code:

1) Incorporate it into their software verbatim. They can then keep their
software proprietary.

2) Download the GPLed version and modify it. Then the resulting derived
software would have to be GPLed.

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