[MUD-Dev] code base inquiry

Andru Luvisi luvisi at andru.sonoma.edu
Wed Nov 17 09:28:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Wed, 17 Nov 1999, Travis S. Casey wrote:
> On Mon, 15 Nov 1999, Robert Green wrote:
> > One particularly excellent reason is that, in my case, the original code
> > base (nightmare 3.x basis) was later withdrawn from circulation and
> > declared as unavailable to anybody for any future projects. As a result,
> > I am probably one of only 2 or 3 muds still using this codebase, and if
> > something happens to my server, I would be in 'violation' of the current
> > license if I start over from scratch -- a GPL mud could not be
> > "un-released" in this manner. 
> Actually, it could.  Someone who chooses to distribute original software
> under the GPL can still change his/her license terms at any time, just as
> Descartes did with Nightmare.

Not exactly *just* like Descartes did.

Let's say you give me a code base under the GPL.  I now have the right to
redistribute it to anyone I like.

Let's say you stop distributing the code under the GPL, and now only
distribute it under some new license.

The code that *I* have, I can still redistribute as I like under the GPL.
I can't necessarily redistribute any *new* ((code you release under the
new license)) under the GPL.  The *original* release, however, will always
be out there as long as there is anybody continuing to redistribute it.

What happened with Nightmare was different.  Descartes never gave anyone
the right to redistribute Nightmare.  He was *always* the only one (asside
from a few select mirror sites) who could distribute it.  When he yanked
it, those of us who had copies couldn't legally distribute those copies.

> If someone incorporates GPLed code that they did not create into their
> codebase, then they would not be able to change the license -- but someone
> who writes a codebase from scratch and releases it under the GPL can
> un-GPL it at any time.

The GPL's never been tested in court, but one of the goals in writing the
GPL was to create a license that could not be revoked unless the person
using the code under the license violated it.  This was part of the
purpose: to encourage people to contribute not only with the knowledge
that their contribution would *always* remain free, but also with the
knowledge that the code they based their contribution on would *also*
always remain free.

> Whether such retroactive license changes are legal is another question 
> -- but that question is independent of the use of the GPL.

Actually, it is tightly intertwined with the philosophy behind the GPL.
You may notice that even if you violate the GPL, anyone who you've
redistributed the software to *doesn't* lose *their* rights.  This was
deliberately put in to try and make retroactive retractions impossible.

| Andru Luvisi                 | http://libweb.sonoma.edu/		 |
| Programmer/Analyst           |   Library Resources Online              | 
| Ruben Salazar Library        |-----------------------------------------| 
| Sonoma State University      | http://www.belleprovence.com/		 |
| luvisi at andru.sonoma.edu      |   Textile imports from Provence, France |

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