Subject: Re: Question about a specific license
From: John Cowan <>
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 06:21:21 -0500 (EST)

James Michael DuPont scripsit:

> Sorry, I dont mean to do that exactly, it the question of my
> contribution back. Do I have to put my changes under the same license,
> or can I make them GPLed?

You can do either, or indeed you can keep them proprietary (though not
then mix them with GPLed code in your application).  That's the point of
the BSD: maximal freedom for programmers (not necessarily for users).

Tactically speaking, it may be better to use the BSD so that other people
can build on your versions with the same freedom, as many people who use
the BSD are quite ideological about it (same with the GPL).  See for a note on why the FSF doesn't
insist on GPLing code it contributes to X Windows -- it would fork the
code base, and that is worse than generating non-copyleft code in this case.

> It really comes down to the question of where one software starts and
> another ends. If I make a Gpled module that overrides existing
> functions or have hooks into existing functions, can they be only
> provided under the GPL?

The FSF says yes, most others say no.  IANAL, TINLA.

> It would be possible to re-sell a non-free software the does the same,
> but the sources are generally not included, so no-one would be the
> wiser. 

People do get caught, it seems, and generally the threat of lawsuit
suffices.  See
for an insider view of this.

John Cowan     
To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description at all.  There
are no words left to express his staggerment, since Men changed the language
that they learned of elves in the days when all the world was wonderful.
        --_The Hobbit_
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