Feedback on free software licence requested

Sam Liddicott sam at
Tue Jan 25 16:59:01 UTC 2005

Tristan Miller wrote:

>I have a colleague who wishes to release a program under a free software 
>licence. However, he and/or our company wishes to reserve the right to use 
>and relicense any third-party contributions under another (possibly 
>non-free) licence. I therefore suggested using the following licence:
>Gnomovision is released under the GNU General Public License, with the 
>additional proviso that for any modifications to the source code which you 
>publish, you agree to grant Vice, Inc. a perpetual, world-wide, 
>royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, display, 
>perform, sublicence, and distribute said modifications (or portions 
>thereof) either on an unmodified basis, or with other modifications, as 
>source code or binary code or as part of a larger work.
>However, I believe that such a licence would break compatibility with the 
>GPL (and probably most other free software licences). Am I correct? If so, 
>I suppose this might discourage people from contributing to the project, 
>and would also preclude the inclusion of or linking to GPL-covered 
>third-party code.
>If anyone has comments on this licence or ideas for modifications or for 
>some alternative licence which could be used, please let me know and I'll 
>pass them along to my colleague.

Possibly they want to do something similar to what mysql do, something 
like: changes submitted to them for incorporation into their official 
(GPL'd) source tree become their own property and thus also 
re-licensable by them independantly of the GPL.

However that would remove authors rights over their own code when they 
became part of the standard source tree, but it would not remove rights 
that author had granted to other users by distributing under the GPL 
first, so I don't know if transfer of ownership that was is possible, or 
if instead the company would just receive no exclusive rights to make 
use of contributions.


More information about the Discussion mailing list