- The MIT licence says that people can use your code, provided they do not remove the licence from it.
- The GPL says that people can use your code, provided that, for anything they build on top of it, they give the same rights to anyone they give it to.
This means that a licence violation, in essence, is just a copyright violation.
In other words, if someone e.g. uses GPL'd code in a closed-source product, the offence is the same as if they'd have used non-open source code: a copyright violation.
They were never given permission to use that copyrighted code in a closed-source product in the first place!
It's not just to enable closed source work though. It can also prevent having to reach out to all contributors if there's a good reason to change the licence in the future.
For example, this is what LLVM is having to do now: https://foundation.llvm.org/docs/relicensing_long_tail/
@humanetech Yeah, I was thinking about adding something about the DCO, but decided that would be wading too far into the weeds.
To be clear, the DCO solves a different problem than the one LLVM is running into now: to ensure that those who licence their work take responsibility for being allowed to do so (i.e. that they're the copyright holders). It does not allow an organisation to later re-license that work. (Which, of course, is exactly the reason for going with a DCO over a CLA.)
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