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ZDNet: No, You Can’t Take Open-source Code Back

February 12, 2019

It appears some users are still unclear about open-source licenses after the author of the game GPC-Slots 2 claimed he was rescinding a program’s GPLv2 license from certain people. Contrary to what this author believes, once a code is opened, “you can’t close Pandora’s copyright box.”

Heather Meeker, a partner specializing in intellectual property law at the law firm O’Melveny, explained: “GPL3 specifically says, ‘All rights granted under this License are granted for the term of copyright on the Program, and are irrevocable provided the stated conditions are met.’ Arguments that the license is ‘bare’ or revocable actually contradict its terms. And in fact, most GPL code is available under GPL3, if the licensee chooses that version. Only a few projects are GPL2 only.”

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