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Re: [gNewSense-users] KFV: GPL without version - does COPYING apply or n

From: Sam Geeraerts
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] KFV: GPL without version - does COPYING apply or not?
Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2008 23:04:58 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla-Thunderbird (X11/20080110)

Markus Laire wrote:
Sam Geeraerts wrote:
Markus Laire wrote:
Well, it's not that simple in this case because COPYING says "Also note that the only valid version of the GPL as far as the kernel is concerned is _this_ particular version of the license (ie v2, not v2.2 or v3.x or whatever), unless explicitly otherwise stated."

So if the file was written specifically for Linux Kernel, by just mentioning GPL author could've meant "GPL as specified in COPYING file" since he doesn't "explicitly state otherwise".

Or author could've meant "GPL, any version"

Good point, I see how that could be confusing. I think that statement in COPYING means that in the context of the Linux kernel all code that can be treated as GPLv2 (e.g. license is Just GPL or modified BSD) must be treated as GPLv2. That restriction does not apply outside the Linux kernel. So your statement is not wrong for this purpose.

If, by stating "GPL", the author meant "GPL as specified in COPYING file" (i.e. GPLv2 only), then _that_ is the license of the file, and it will apply also outside of the kernel.

IMO the statement in COPYING-file clearly means that when ever (within Linux Kernel) GPL is mentioned without explicit version, or GPLv2 is mentioned without explicit "or later", those both will mean "only GPLv2" and nothing else.

Bake Timmons sums it up pretty good:

We cannot (and should not) guess what the author meant. We should only act upon what he actually said. The statement in COPYING only applies within Linux. If the same "GPL" (no version) code is copied to the Hurd than COPYING no longer applies and the code can be used as GPLv3.

As for the "explicitly otherwise stated" part: a copyright holder can explicitly choose another version of the GPL for their code if they want to. But neither GPLv1 nor GPLv3 are compatible with GPLv2, so this option is useless.

Copyright holder can also explicitly state "GPLv2 or later" in which case COPYING-file clearly doesn't apply.

Yes, but the code will still be just GPLv2 inside Linux (because the license would be incompatible if they chose GPLv3) and it doesn't matter outside the kernel.

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