A standard way to license something under the GPL, is to grant a license to the "GPL version 3 or later", meaning that the recipient receives a license under the license terms of the GPLv3, or at their choice any later version of the GPL.

I have been told that in the EU, or at least Germany this is impossible because the license constitutes a contract, and it's not lawful to enter into a contract that has terms that are unknown to you at the time of entering it. Is this correct?

  • What's the scenario you're imagining? Where, say, a subsequent version of the GPL says that the author agrees to give the licensee free technical support? Sep 17, 2015 at 11:45
  • That answer may well clear this question too: law.stackexchange.com/a/50331/39760 Sep 24, 2021 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


The terms are known - GPL version 3 or later. Just write it a bit more complicated: "I hereby sell you the software X. You are allowed to use the software under the terms of the GPL license version 3. I have the right to change the license terms, at any time and repeatedly, to the terms of a later version of the GPL license".

So everything is absolutely known and fine.

  • I clarified the question; the shoe is on the other foot. I doubt this changes the answer though.
    – Martijn
    Sep 15, 2015 at 8:27

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