September 14, 2003

Can the GPL be revoked?

A couple of weeks ago Ohio State (who maintains an open source software package called Prospero) took this software off of their website, and sent out a message saying, "...any license previously granted...is hereby terminated and revoked..." "...All users...are immediately required to discontinue use and distribution of the software...".

But the software was originally released under the GNU GPL. Can the GPL just be revoked? What should outside developers and users of the software do? It brings to mind the question of whether it is possible for companies to release GPL software and then later yank it away with legal FUD.

Rumor is that Ohio State may have accidentally included proprietary software with Prospero, and may have a pending lawsuit against them for distributing it, which may explain why they removed the software from their site.

Posted by steve at September 14, 2003 12:22 AM