I have a program that is offered to the public on the web as a GPL program. This is a hobby type project that i stated 3.5 years ago and i have had one collaborator for most of that duration who has contributed some code me and my collaborator both like to see the program develop as it's both our hobbies.

A person has adopted its game board to a play against the computer program. He wrote his own engine and his game he plays on the board uses a different set of rules. I think both me and my collaborator are ok with a more permissive licence grant. I've told the the derived work author that code he modifies he can add his copyright, and any java files that are all his code he can have sole copyright. I can grant a more permissive grant. But if i do what would his right of transferability be. By granting him a modification of gpl and he makes his code open source, could he in turn give the same grant to anyone else or does he not have a right of transferability?

The first question (that would cause the second to be not applicable) is: would GPL work for what i'm doing to promote my brand and allow others somewhat permissive use. The secondary question is would my lack of enforcement or accepting modifications of terms be inherited by any users of his work.

My open source software is in a hobby area, chess. Understanding the open source licences helps me be persuasive and helps with communication as the eventual adapters of code begin.

  • i've added some edits. – LanternMike May 18 '13 at 11:38

The GPL is probably the right license to use. Note that by licensing your software to anybody, you are not giving away your trademark (your brand) with it. An example is the Firefox browser, which is shipped as "Iceweasel" in some Linux distributions as they modified the code and the Mozilla Foundation does not grant the right to brand derivative works with the "Firefox" brand.

With the GPL the licensee has to keep all copyright information intact (and can add her own). All changes made to the software must be documented as well, and it needs be indicated where the original sources can be obtained as well as the modified sources.

If anybody wants to make money out of the software, she would still have to provide copyright information and source code to the customer, as well as license the product under the terms of the GPL to the customer. Which means that anybody has the possibility to sell the software GPL-licensed. So you would also be allowed to sell their version of the software.

The GPL by itself includes unrestricted transferability, but under defined strict terms which seem to suit your needs well.

  • One thing he is doing is he is writing his own classes to cover the game rules and abstract representation of the game, and his own classes that create the interactive layer with the engine to send and receive moves between the board and the engine. I've let him keep sole copyright and not ask that he includes my copyright on these files. Is this consistent with gpl? – LanternMike May 18 '13 at 12:21
  • I could rescind that as i've just become aware of his program a few days ago and was just attempting to clarify how to handle adding his copyright. But then again maybe that is proper. – LanternMike May 18 '13 at 12:31
  • I also haven't required him to document the changes, only to open source the java files. I don't necessarily want to create huge regulatory burdens for working with the code. Is there a minimum standard to this requirement? – LanternMike May 18 '13 at 12:51
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    i was just reading through the gnu licence in a link on an earlier post, it doesn't seem to say you have to document your changes that i can find only that you have to prominently say you have changed the file if i'm reading right. – LanternMike May 18 '13 at 13:16
  • First of all, you did never grant him copyright on your work so you can start distributing under GPL and if he is cool with it, he will also distribute his copyrighted parts under GPL. If not, he can at most continue working with the last version of the code that you granted him any rights to work with. For the GPL itself it is not relevant who owns the copyright, it is perfectly fine to combine the work of two parties with different copyrights as long as both parts are GPL-licensed. – ypnos May 18 '13 at 20:49

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