There is an LGPL open source code in SourceForge that is quite useful, but entirely abandoned. I can see that the community struggles with code issues, but the original developer does not respond to any communication and the code has not been changed since 2008.

The code is under the license LGPL. The Licence.txt in the root folder of source code file begins with:

                Version 2.1, February 1999

The project source code could be easily improved. I am thinking to bring the code to GitHub, improve it, add samples, add documentation and usage snippets to it.

Does LGPL allow me to do that? If not, what are my options here?

  • Note that your quote refers to the text of the LGPL license itself. It has no bearing on the permissions that the LGPL license grants you with regard to the software. Sep 28 '18 at 10:41
  • Dear SE fellows, I wonder if this question that looks like a legal question ("am I allowed to"), is not in reality about what are the acceptable open source practices for reviving still used software abandoned by their owner (or owner deceased). In addition, according to this SE-meta post, I understand that the question is not necessarily out of scope, sibnce it can be answered very easily by most software engineers and doesn't require a legal education. Finally, it may be useful to a lot of developers in same situation.
    – Christophe
    Sep 28 '18 at 17:09
  • So, I have updated the question by simply changing the order of the sentences and removing the useless part of the licence text. I think it would really deserve to be reopened.
    – Christophe
    Sep 28 '18 at 17:25
  • @Christophe: at this point the question is the most basic form of "what is the LGPL" which should be locked as a duplicated or a link to the GPL FAQ. Sep 28 '18 at 17:33
  • @whatsisname I agree that it's basic (and not legal). I would agree with a dupe, but I browsed on SE for "lgpl", "abandoned", "change" "owner" and similar combination of terms that an OP in a similar situation could think of (if new to OSS) and surprisingly didn't find anything relevant. Could you help ?
    – Christophe
    Sep 28 '18 at 18:14

The LGPL v2.1 states that:

  1. You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Library's complete source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and distribute a copy of this License along with the Library.

I think this allows to fork the project on GitHub, as long as you keep the old license and copyright.

Furthermore, the license allows you to change the code:

  1. You may modify your copy or copies of the Library or any portion of it, thus forming a work based on the Library, and copy and distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:

as long as you respect all the conditions of the license, and keep the original license terms unchanged. Of course, the original owner still owns the original code, and you own your modifications only.

Disclaimer: This is my interpretation of the license as a software practitionner and is not a legal advice. For legal advice, consult a lawyer or a qualified legal expert in your jurisdiction

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