Can you change the license of an Open Source product?

This puzzled me. Once we released the BlogBridge source code under the LGPL, it was out in the open, and published to the world. Had we forfeited the right to change the license? The answer depends on who owns and holds the Copyright to the code.

As it is, all the code was either personally written by me (90%) or written by others who have agreed to transfer ownership to me. In other words, I hold a clear copyright to all the code, and that is the key. This makes it legitimate and legal to reissue the same source code under a new license.

What existed before (i.e. everything up to 0.5.3) under LGPL will not cease to exist or be available under the LGPL, but, all continuing work, enhancements and so on will be governed by the GPL and that's what counts.

So the key requirement is that, no matter what the open source license is, do you have clear ownership and if you do, you can re-release it under a different license. Makes perfect sense once you hear it.
Posted on August 5, 2004 and filed under BlogBridge.