License confusion and the stripping of rights.

I really thought that the time of license confusion was well past, and we had all settled down and understood the basis, and ramifications of each of the open source licenses.  It seems I was wrong.

Having a look at a piece of code recently I noticed some very familiar code - it was my code, originally released under GPL with the copyright notice clearly stating that it was "part of the collected works of Adam Donnison".  I had done this deliberately and done so with a number of pieces of code that I had built over the years, knowing that they were useful and could be used in other projects.  Imagine my surprise to see that same code, only slightly modified, in another project with the copyright notice removed and the explanation:

 * Note: Previously, this class was mis-licensed as GPL in an otherwise BSD
 *   application. The GPL attempt was in 2003 while the project itself was not
 *   relicensed from BSD to GPL in 2005. In 2007, all further development was
 *   done under the Clear BSD license and all GPL modifications were removed.

Really?  Since when did the BSD license become viral?  Wasn't that the entire reason people complained about GPL and wanted to move to BSD?  There is nothing in the BSD license, or the Clear BSD license that demands that all code in a project be covered by the same license.  Indeed even prior to 2001 dotProject had code that was under the Voxel Public License (ticketsmith) which was more restrictive than BSD, so there had been precedents for differently licensed parts of the code.  Indeed none of the BSD licenses even has the concept of a "project" or "greater work". Dropping the copyright is also a violation of the BSD license, as it is of the GPL, so no matter how you cut the dice, this action was against both the spirit and the letter of the licenses it supposes to uphold.

As to "all GPL modifications were removed", an interesting and, on the face of it, erroneous statement.

I believe I am within my rights to demand that the copyright notice be reinstated, or the code removed.  Now I don't want to get heavy with anyone, but these licenses only work based on strong copyright protection.  My copyright has been violated, and I am now considering what action to take.

This is not the first run-in I've had with this project's developers on their cavalier attitude to copyright notices, but this is by far the most egregious.  I believe their actions were to allow them to make money on the project - in which case I also believe that damages could be sought.  I have no problem with them making money - only not by stripping me of my rights.

Update: I've since spoken with the project lead on the project in question and we've come to an understanding on the issue.

No feedback yet