Nuking "or later" in the sources

Andy Green andy at
Wed Sep 20 11:48:21 PDT 2006

Rich Felker wrote:

> When you receive a modified version of your code from Busybox, it is a
> derived work with multiple copyright holders. The party who prepared
> and distributed this derived work is not required to license it under
> all versions of GPL since you told them (when you licensed your
> original work under "GPL v2 or later") that they can pick, at their
> option, either GPL v2 or any later version. They picked v2. Thus the
> derived work is under GPL v2 only.

I think it's a good move if busybox goes GPL 2 only, but understanding 
the explanation above, is it then the plan to remove the "or later" 
language from the individual source files at the time of the license 
change?  It seems to me if this is not done, the recipient can with some 
justification point at the files you gave him (that continue to say GPL 
2 "or later"), say that he wants to modify under GPL 3 and demand 
signing keys accordingly.

Further, is it not the case that anyone who has any GPL2 "or later" 
project plans to "distribute under the terms of GPL 2" should make sure 
he does the same thing?  Not talking about removing copyright notices 
just making sure that each file contains the actual terms of that 
distribution action (which otherwise is probably not committed to 
writing anywhere...)


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