I ask because I found no answer to this, maybe because is too obvious (I think there is no thing like "legally obvious").

Imagine that I make a small library (DLL) or a styling template (CSS) or whatever, and I want to make it public and open source (yay!).

Until now, I used to license these kind of things with GPLv3 if it is a whole project, or LGPLv3 if it is a small part like I said before.

My question is, as owner of my code and binaries, am I forced in some way to use them in the same way I already specified in the license I give them?

For example, using my GPLv3 library in a proprietary program (closed source) with EULA and everything...

Thanks in advance.

  • 4
    You can use your own code any way you wish. – Robert Harvey Feb 4 '18 at 22:42
  • @RobertHarvey I guess so. But by using it, sometimes the files may come with copyright notices with the license within them. There is still no problem in these cases? – David Tabernero M. Feb 4 '18 at 23:34
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    I can think of two reasons you might not have full rights to source code you wrote. (1) You have accepted (pulled) code into your sources from others (which can happen in open source). (2) You have agreed to grant someone else exclusive rights (which can happen if you are employed or contracted). Also, we are programmers, not lawyers, and, this is not legal advice. – Erik Eidt Feb 5 '18 at 1:19
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    @Davdriver: If it's your code, the license grants others a license to use the code, not the copyright. You don't have to license the code to use it yourself if you possess the copyright. – Robert Harvey Feb 5 '18 at 2:28
  • Please, if I forget to say something, it is duplicate or whatever, please share it. I do not understand the downvotes without explanation. – David Tabernero M. Feb 5 '18 at 17:13

As long as you are the sole copyright holder, you can do what you want with the software. Why? When someone uses software and doesn’t adhere to the license, the copyright holder can sue them for copyright infringement. If you are the only copyright holder, only you can sue yourself. Nobody else.

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  • This logic is not entirely sound. If I own a house but lease it out, it binds the owner to comply with it as much as the leaseholder. You may, by licencing software out, enter into a binding agreement, where the person whose rights you then breach are the licencee's, not your own. There is likely to be legal "consideration" on both sides, and therefore a binding agreement, if others have waived their copyright rights in their own valuable code, in order to use your publicly available code. – Steve Feb 5 '18 at 8:57
  • @Steve: A copyright holder is allowed to provide the copyrighted work to different people under different licenses, as long as none of the licenses give exclusive rights (which open source licenses don't do). A copyright license is not a contract. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Feb 5 '18 at 11:44
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    @BartvanIngenSchenau, but as you point out that depends on the licence. All I am saying is that the essential logic that an owner cannot violate any rights in relation to the work he owns, is a flawed logic. Therefore the answer for the OP is to look at the terms of the licences he has issued - not to assume a priori that a copyright owner cannot possibly be be bound by the licences he has already issued, as this answer suggests. – Steve Feb 5 '18 at 12:03
  • @Steve Then, might I have legal problems by using it in a different way I already specified for licensing it for everyone else? – David Tabernero M. Feb 5 '18 at 17:17
  • @Davdriver, any legal risk depends what it is and how you've licensed it. But regardless of the legal principles, if you're only really a hobbyist then I'd be surprised if you needed to be concerned about "legal problems", unless you have specific reason to think that what you're doing is questionable. – Steve Feb 5 '18 at 18:31

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