Nuking "or later" in the sources

Andy Green andy at
Wed Sep 20 12:53:10 PDT 2006

Rich Felker wrote:

 > Shouldn't a passing grade in logic be a prerequisite for participating
 > in license threads, BTW?

Giving the point sufficient time of day to understand it before 
pronouncing a randomized version of it 'illogical, captain' should 
perhaps be a prerequisite too.  I'll describe my point another way to 
see if it is clearer.

Considering that you are distributing a package that came to you on GPL2 
"or later" terms to a recipient under GPL2-only terms, how will you 
define to the recipient that your distribution action was specifically 
under GPL2-only terms?  Talking about it on the mailing list was enough? 
  You'll just tell them afterwards if they ask?  Or you will add a note 
in a README.GPL2ONLY and the website?  Or something else?  You are going 
to get it in writing somehow, right?

The issue I raise is that if you do not edit the license in the source 
files what you distribute is in a state of conflict.  On the one hand a 
note presumably says in the toplevel dir "hey all this is GPL2-only", 
but the individual source files themselves would continue to proclaim 
that they can be "modified" on terms of GPL2 "or later".  This seems to 
me an unclear state of affairs where someone receiving the sources left 
like that can argue that you gave them the sources retaining the "or 
later" language on "or later" terms despite the disclaimer that came 
with the whole package.  No doubt Judge Felker would halt the trial and 
feed these peons to the dogs, but you can see there is a basic conflict 
there in what the sources of the project are saying.

 >> 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...)
 > Huh?

IOW if anyone plans to take the GPL2-only option when distributing any 
GPL2 "or later" project, maybe the way to show everyone downstream that 
you did that is to take a hatchet to the "or later" text in the sources.


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