Subject: Re: [Freesw] Re: FreeDevelopers
From: Crispin Cowan <>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 18:19:53 -0800

Glen Starchman wrote:

> > Note also that by re-issuing your widget under a proprietary license, you do NOT
> > get to prevent others from distributing and enhancing the existing GPL'd version
> > of your widget.
> That's to be expected. But for another question: is there a *legal* mechanism
> for changing an existing license, especially in regards to GPL?

The "mechanism" is no different than the original copyright applied to anything that
anyone writes.  You are not actually *changing* the license (you can't do that).  What
you are doing is *re-issuing* the code under a new license.  As the copyright
holder(s) on a work, the author(s) can do that, while others cannot.

So the "mechanism" such as it is, is:

  1. Make sure all author(s) agree to the change.
  2. Hack the sources & binaries to reflect the new license.
  3. Publish.

Screw up on step 1, and one of the authors can claim that your re-issued product is
violation of hir license on the old product, and force you to do ugly things.  To my
knowledge, no mechanism exists for assuring step 1 other than careful diligence.

Disclaimer, before I get myself in trouble:  I am not a lawyer, get your own legal


Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
Chief Research Scientist, WireX Communications, Inc.
Security Hardened Linux Distribution: