Has anyone considered upping the GPLv2+?

How about we try it this way. EE may go GPLv3 soon, depending partially on the outcome of the resolution of the Doom Classic 2.0 source release. If we do, and Activision sues me, I'll admit I was horribly wrong ;)

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I want to relink to this.

My opinion is this. Under U.S. law — and I believe European codes are not different in this respect, because both are controlled by the Berne convention — a license change on a collection is grounds for protest or legal action only if the rights of the contributors are materially affected by the change. That is, a court would have to be persuaded that the change caused a monetary loss or at least damage to a contributor’s public reputation. If there is no such possibility, then there is no harm and no grounds for complaint.

It is clear that there is such a claim when a license is changed from open source to proprietary, or from proprietary to open source, without the author’s consent (the legal categories that apply are “unjust enrichment” and perhaps “conversion”). But no such claim can plausibly be made about Apache v1 to v2. A court would laugh at you if you tried. The applicable rule in English and American common law is called “De minimis non curat lex” – “The law does not concern itself with trifles.”


Relicensing the Raven code from GPLv2 to GPLv3 would not cause monetary loss nor damage to reputation for Raven Software and Activision. The issue would most definitely be considered nothing but trifles if it were brought in court.

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You can do almost anything and wait for a response.
There will be plenty of negotiation before anybody does anything drastic.

The lawyers that you need to worry about are the ones that have you with a product that you cannot abandon, and they think they have enough of a claim to cause you trouble. With them it does not matter if their claim is valid (such as some obscure patent). It is your costs to fight, and costs to change the product, they are trying to work to their advantage.

I think the worst cost you have here is the cost to change any code upon which they have reasonable claim. But again, you can can even disagree and leave it that way. Especially if the claim is weak and low chances of recovering cost of litigation.

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You could say that the fact that id has never challenged ZDoom releasing its code under the BSD means anyone can effectively use it under that license as well :P

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Quasar said:

You could say that the fact that id has never challenged ZDoom releasing its code under the BSD means anyone can effectively use it under that license as well :P

I don't recall the ZDoom developers asserting the whole program was under the BSD license. New code is under a BSD type license, but the existing DOOM code is still under the original DOOM license.

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Gez said:

I want to relink to this.

Relicensing the Raven code from GPLv2 to GPLv3 would not cause monetary loss nor damage to reputation for Raven Software and Activision. The issue would most definitely be considered nothing but trifles if it were brought in court.

No, it most likely wouldn't. It doesn't mean that we can do so however. Unless the original license is permissible, or the copyright holders agree, you can not change the license, or absolve yourself of license obligations by removing copyright. See for example http://www.brownrudnick.com/nr/pdf/alerts/Brown%20Rudnick%20Advisory%20The%20Bionic%20Library-Did%20Google%20Work%20Around%20The%20GPL.pdf

Quasar said:

You could say that the fact that id has never challenged ZDoom releasing its code under the BSD means anyone can effectively use it under that license as well :P

It is my understanding that the ZDoom additions are under a BSD license, but the work as a whole is not. A quick glance at the source reveals the original Doom Source license header is present, not the GPL header. Given the history of the project, I don't particularly want to go through and pick out faults and incompatibilities them already seem well known.

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Yagisan said:

No, it most likely wouldn't. It doesn't mean that we can do so however. Unless the original license is permissible, or the copyright holders agree, you can not change the license, or absolve yourself of license obligations by removing copyright. See for example http://www.brownrudnick.com/nr/pdf/alerts/Brown%20Rudnick%20Advisory%20The%20Bionic%20Library-Did%20Google%20Work%20Around%20The%20GPL.pdf


Relicensing from copyleft to non-copyleft is a different notion from relicensing from copyleft to copyleft.

If Eternity were to move to BSD instead of GPLv3, it would allow commercial, closed-source use of code from Id and Raven that were released under non-commercial or open-source licenses, and therefore it would be a serious infringement of license terms. But GPLv2 to GPLv3; especially when it's debatable that it isn't already GPLv2+? That's trifles.

The reason v3 is incompatible with v2 is because it places additional burdens, such as the obligation to include installation instructions. Since this wouldn't apply to the original distribution of the code but to its use in a different program, that burden is placed solely upon the shoulders of the persons doing that program which are the same as those relicensing code.

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Gez said:

If Eternity were to move to BSD instead of GPLv3, it would allow commercial, closed-source use of code from Id and Raven that were released under non-commercial or open-source licenses, and therefore it would be a serious infringement of license terms.

Indeed - if he wanted to make it commercial, he would need to use the open source licensed version, and if he wanted to close the source, he would need to use the non-commercial license

Gez said:

But GPLv2 to GPLv3; especially when it's debatable that it isn't already GPLv2+? That's trifles.

I'm not entirely sold on the idea that the raven code is GPLv2+, but it is ambiguous enough that you can argue it both ways, and both interpretations could be considered valid. It's the statement of intent in SourceReadme.txt that stops me from rushing out to join the chorus of yes - it is GPLv2+

Gez said:

The reason v3 is incompatible with v2 is because it places additional burdens, such as the obligation to include installation instructions. Since this wouldn't apply to the original distribution of the code but to its use in a different program, that burden is placed solely upon the shoulders of the persons doing that program which are the same as those relicensing code.

That applies to anyone who wishes to accept it under the terms of a later license.

If Quasar does wish to move to the GPLv3+ he has my full support. All of my contributions have been either explicitly marked as GPLv2+ on substantial contributions, or small patches to files already so marked.

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Thought about doing it with Chocolate Doom, but decided against it. My reasoning:

  • If I switch to GPLv3, other source ports that are GPLv2 would be unable to reuse any code from Chocolate Doom. Conversely, being GPLv2 means that other source ports that might be GPLv3 can reuse my code.
  • I don't entirely agree with all the new stuff in the GPLv3.

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