Robert Dewar dewar@adacore.com
Sun Jul 15 13:00:00 GMT 2007

Richard Kenner wrote:

> At what point in this process, and by what mechanism, does a patch become a
> "GPLv2 patch" or a "GPLv3 patch".  I'd argue that the patch itself has no
> such status at all: as of the time it's posted, its copyright is owned by
> the FSF, but that's all that's happened.  The assignment agreement
> obligates the FSF that all "distribution" of the patch should be under
> GPL-like terms, but it's completely unclear as to at what point those terms
> apply.  For one thing, there are multiple possible licenses even ignoring
> the v2 vs. v3 issue: GPL, LGPL, GPL+exception, etc.

Yes, I think that this analysis is exactly correct

> So if you see a patch posted on an FSF mailing list, what copyright license
> status does that patch have?  My feeling is that as a practical matter, it's
> irrelevant since the patch is a derived work from some file and the license
> that applies to that file trumps any that might be viewed by some mechanism
> as applying to the patch in isolation.  If I'm patching an LGPLv3 file,
> then my patch is a derived work from that file and so is also LGPLv3.
> End of story.

Seems like the right approach

> Now, suppose I apply it to the GPLv2 version of the file. One could argue
> that such file is now GPLv3 and I think that'd be correct.  But since the
> parts of the file being patched are identical, the patch is indistinguishable
> from one that's derived from GPLv2 text.  This strikes me as a VERY murky
> legal areas.

Right, that does seem murky, which is why I suggested the blanket 
statement, that removes any possible murk.

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