Exodus Down

Christopher A. Woodfield wrote:

I'm presuming we're talking about BSD-style licenses here - with the GPL,
AFAIK, the code cannot be "closed" once it's open, as any derivitive works
must also be released under the GPL.


You can pretty much always change your licensing terms, if you are the
origional owner of the entire code. Now, if you've accepted other people's
contributions/patches/etc into your codebase, and decide to change the
license, especially away from one that implies future perpetuation, then
you get into hairy territory. But I can write a "Hello world" program,
GPL it, then change that to BSD or Artistic or even "nobody else can
ever use the newer code, so nyah", so long as I have total control over
the codebase (IE, I wrote it all, or it was explicitly assigned to me).

Of course, if I want to enforce that in any way, the new code probably
has to be demonstrably different than the old code (you have to be able
to prove it wasn't just compiled from an open copy of the old code).

The "cannot be closed once it's open" applies to almost all of the open
source licenses, in that they are written so that you cannot *revoke*
someone's right to use an existing release, or their license to make
changes, redistributed, et al (whatever else you permit). Again, it
normally requires a new version release to change the license, and if
you want it to be at all enforceable, there has to be a code difference
that can be used to prove it.

This doesn't get into what happens if I've contracted to let someone else
use it, which is a completely different ball of wax, of course.