[thelist] Copyright ownership under LGPL

mutagen at gmail.com mutagen at gmail.com
Mon Jun 14 01:16:07 CDT 2004

On Mon, 14 Jun 2004 00:16:26 -0500, David Bindel <dbindel at austin.rr.com> wrote:
> I have already written an open source photo gallery system called PHPoto
> <http://sourceforge.net/projects/phpoto/> released under the GNU Lesser
> General Public License (LGPL), but his website would require
> modifications to the software per his specification.

If you're the sole copyright holder on your project, you can release
it under multiple licenses. MySQL or Qt are classic examples, GPL'd
along with commercial licenses. If you have contributions from others
you should get them to assign copyrights to you (or all of you assign
to FSF if they don't want your situation to occur).
> My client has also requested that he own the copyrights to everything I
> make for him; realizing that it would be impractical and unethical for
> me to sell my copyright to my open source software, I told him that that
> would be impossible as the LGPL does not allow me to sell the copyright
> and still distribute the software as Free and Open Source Software
> (since it is no longer mine).  He did not accept those terms easily.
> The software I am making for him would be a heavily-modified offspring
> of my open source software, yet nevertheless, largely based on the
> original open source software.

Again, if you hold the copyrights there is nothing preventing you from
creating a derivitave work and assigning copyright to someone else
(your client). I think the sticky part would come in keeping copyright
to the original and ensuring that your client could never come back
and look at new features added to PHPoto and claim copyright over
them. This is where an IP lawyer familiar with open source would be

I hope you are getting properly compensated for assigning copyright.
In my (limited) experience it is worth a great deal more than a simple
'work for hire'.

More information about the thelist mailing list