[Mono-list] problems with relicensing

Miguel de Icaza miguel@ximian.com
08 Jan 2002 16:33:36 -0500

> But what if now Ximian changes the license to "you can only use this 
> code if you pay Miguel de Icaza two-hundred gorgan-zillian dollars", 
> which would be in Ximian's rights to do.  Could Ximian make this license 
> change retroactive?  Let me be more specific: if Ximian has owned the 
> copyright to my lexer since version 1.2, can they say that all software 
> that uses a version of my lexer later than 1.2 (which may be /years/ old 
> at this point) has to fork over money to Miguel or be sued?

That is definitely not our intention.

I will make sure that the copyright assignment will allow you to keep
the right over your code as well (I do not have the copyright assignment
form with me as I am in Mexico this week as well).

But basically, you should be able to do whatever you want with your code
(even grant licenses to other people or relicense it yourself).  

The reason why the copyright assignment is required is not to sue
people, but to be legally entitled to grant access to the source code
under different licenses.  

Here is a scenario: a company decided that they wanted to build a
set-top box using Mono, but that the GPL on the JIT engine would not
allow them to deploy their system and still grant the recipient the
rights they want (be able to modify the software you run on your settop
box for example), we would be able legally to grant them a license to
use the JITer on such set top box without infringing the GPL. n

> So then my problem becomes, do I donate my lexer to Ximian, knowing that 
>   /any other/ project I use it in may be put in jeopardy if Ximian 
> changes the lexer's license, as they have the right to do?

Your contributions are available under the open source version of the
libraries.  That means that even if we relicense the code, you can use
the code as distributed originally (and use any of our code under the
open source license terms for that particular piece).

> If I didn't have some sort of legal guarantee that Ximian would not make 
> retroactive changes to my code's license, the only code I would donate 
> to Ximian would be code that I was sure I was never going to use 
> anywhere else.  That doesn't sound like quality code to me.

You can not do retroactive changes.  You can not get back a gift you
have given either ;-)