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Upstream changing Licenses [Was: perl-Locale-Maketext-Simple.spec]



On Wed, 2006-05-24 at 17:49 -0700, Steven Pritchard wrote:
> Author: steve
> 
> Update of /cvs/extras/rpms/perl-Locale-Maketext-Simple/FC-4
> In directory cvs-int.fedora.redhat.com:/tmp/cvs-serv6828
> 
> Modified Files:
> 	.cvsignore perl-Locale-Maketext-Simple.spec sources 
> Log Message:
> Update to 0.16.
> License has changed to MIT.

Steve,

do you think upstream is legitimated to do so?

I am facing the same situation with perl-Locale-Maketext-Lexicon (from
the same author). There, upstream has changed the license from
GPL/Artistic to MIT.

IMO, by having done so, upstream probably has violated the law, because,
in general, they cannot change the license a package unless they own the
copyright of all parts a package consists of.
Locale::Maketext::Simple only lists one author, with
Locale::Maketext::Lexicon, the situation seems unclear:
http://search.cpan.org/src/AUTRIJUS/Locale-Maketext-Lexicon-0.61/AUTHORS
lists 20-25 contributors, while the source code only lists one
individual (the CPAN maintainer).

I am not certain on how to handle the situation. To be on the safe side,
I considering to regard my perl-Locale-Maketext-Lexicon rpm as
derivative work of the original work and consider to ship it under the
GPL only.

The fundamental questions would be:
* Who owns contributions to code in CPAN having been released under
GPL/Artistic before?
IMO: If the "contribution is copyrightable", the contributor. He is
contributing under the licenses the original author had granted. The
original author is not legitimated to change the license on such
contributions without explicit permission.

* Is the maintainer of CPAN modules legitimated to change a license from
GPL/Artistic to MIT?
Here, I am not sure about the implications of the Artistic license.

Opinions? What to do?

Ralf




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