I am about to publish an Android app project I would like to do it using GPLv3 license to avoid it being used in proprietary projects for now.

If I change my mind in the future, since I am the project owner, may I later relicense it to Apache 2.0?


1 Answer 1


In general, the principle is that you cannot revoke the GPL license, once it is applied to a particular version of a software.

If you choose to release your software under a new version using a different license, you're certainly free to do that, but all older releases of the code would still fall under the GPL.

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    That last sub-sentence is a bit misleading. You can certainly remove the GPL license from older releases of the code. What you cannot do, is force people whom you already licensed the code under GPL to give back the code. IOW: you can remove the GPL from future downloads of older releases but not past downloads. Apr 18, 2016 at 1:25
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    @JörgWMittag: The people whom you already licensed the code to under the GPL still have the right to distribute it under the GPL, and the folks they distribute it to are still licensed under the GPL. You cannot revoke rights you've already granted, and that effectively means that you cannot remove the license from older versions of the software. Apr 18, 2016 at 2:00
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    I think you need to change "under a new version" and "but all older releases", because that makes it sound like you can't rerelease the original version under a new license. You certainly can do this. You can take your code, add an Apache License file, remove the GPL License file and upload. The only thing that you can't do is tell people who already downloaded the GPL version that what they have is now Apache licensed. Apr 18, 2016 at 2:19
  • Distinguishing licenses based on which download a person used might be technically legal, but it's way too tricky or confusing for other people who may not expect that. It's far better to make such a significant change come along with a bump in the version number (and preferably document it in a list of program history).
    – TOOGAM
    Apr 18, 2016 at 2:36
  • @StevenBurnap: Sure, but anyone can still get the GPL'd version from someone who obtained the code under the GPL, and that would effectively still make it GPL. Apr 18, 2016 at 2:49

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