[darcs-users] darcs patch: relicense Darcs.Commands.GZCRCs as BSD3

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Mon Sep 21 04:50:23 UTC 2009

Matthias Kilian writes:

 > You can't relicense BSD licensed code without the permission of the

I don't recall who introduced "relicense" into the discussion, but it
is incorrect.  "Relicense" refers to changing the license of an
existing copy, while what we're talking about is "sublicensing",
assigning a different license to new copies.

 > author. You can, however include it into GPL licensed code and
 > distribute the whole whint under the GPL. But the BSD licensed
 > pieces will be still -- BSD licensed.

That is a technical point of little interest.  It is unquestionably
sublicensed in a practical sense, because (unless the holder of rights
in the derivative work is generous about it) there will be nothing
delimiting the code originally licensed permissively.  If you are
*really* interested in the code, the existence of the BSD permissions
notice will notify you that *somewhere* *portions* of the code are
available under BSD, but it is not legally safe to copy code from a
GPLed work and redistribute it under BSD.

In any case, it certainly is possible to apply new terms to existing
BSD code by use of a contract.  I believe that this is true of bare
licenses as well; if you redistribute formerly BSDed portions (only)
of a GPLed work under BSD, you lose your GPL rights in the rest of the
work.  Sublicensing would mean you can also be legally prevented from
distributing those portions of the work.  Inability to sublicense
doesn't prevent the owner of the GPL rights from imposing "unfair
restrictions" like the above, AFAIK.  I have no guess as to whether a
court would enforce them, though, but it wouldn't be laughed out of
court I think.

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