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smeezekitty 09-23-2012 05:07 PM

GNU GPL clarification
 
Ok I will be honest. I know very little about legal stuff and licenses.
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.txt
A quote from the preamble from version 3:
Quote:


The licenses for most software and other practical works are designed
to take away your freedom to share and change the works. By contrast,
the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to
share and change all versions of a program--to make sure it remains free
software for all its users. We, the Free Software Foundation, use the
GNU General Public License for most of our software; it applies also to
any other work released this way by its authors. You can apply it to
your programs, too.

When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not
price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you
have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for
them if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you
want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new
free programs, and that you know you can do these things.

It says someone can charge money for a piece of software.
But it also gives the freedom to redistribute and modify.
Wouldn't that mean it is legal to purchase a piece of non-free (money wise) software and put it up for free? (making charging for pointless) Or am I just confused?

273 09-23-2012 05:19 PM

As I understand it you can release compiled binaries with a license but must provide the source code for free or "a reasonable charge". So, yes, in effect though you can charger for your work anyone can also get it gratis if they so wish.
It is more complicated than that of course but releasing under GNU type licenses you're generally charging for a service, quicker patching, some non-free components or similar. At least from what I see of Red Hat/CentOS, Android and projects like Ardour.

smeezekitty 09-23-2012 05:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 273 (Post 4787489)
As I understand it you can release compiled binaries with a license but must provide the source code for free or "a reasonable charge". So, yes, in effect though you can charger for your work anyone can also get it gratis if they so wish.

This is what I was thinking.
Quote:

It is more complicated than that of course but releasing under GNU type licenses you're generally charging for a service, quicker patching, some non-free components or similar. At least from what I see of Red Hat/CentOS, Android and projects like Ardour.
Charging for support for example is different but not really relevant. I think that Red Hat is mixed licensed with some non-free components. It should be available for free without the non-free components.

Thanks for replying.

273 09-23-2012 05:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smeezekitty (Post 4787494)
Charging for support for example is different but not really relevant. I think that Red Hat is mixed licensed with some non-free components. It should be available for free without the non-free components.

Thanks for replying.

As I see it it ought to be relevant. You could, for example, release a program under the GPL which runs well on most systems. However, you may charge for it and in return rewrite and recompile elements for each client to tailor it to their needs. In providing bespoke systems to clients you are serving their needs, but you could still if you wished release the code under the GPL. Unless the bespoke code were deemed a trade secret of your client for some reason everyone would gain in this situation and you would have made money from GPL code.

I should point out that this is just my interpretation, so I am talking generally not specifically.

smeezekitty 09-23-2012 05:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 273 (Post 4787503)
As I see it it ought to be relevant. You could, for example, release a program under the GPL which runs well on most systems. However, you may charge for it and in return rewrite and recompile elements for each client to tailor it to their needs. In providing bespoke systems to clients you are serving their needs, but you could still if you wished release the code under the GPL. Unless the bespoke code were deemed a trade secret of your client for some reason everyone would gain in this situation and you would have made money from GPL code.

I should point out that this is just my interpretation, so I am talking generally not specifically.

This sounds like it would be exploiting bugs in the GPL mode then anything. I do not believe this was really the intent IMO.
But if someone would be willing to put forth the effort to support it for free, wouldn't that be legal?

I think this scenario would not be very economical and going the traditional proprietary route would be less trouble for such a company.

Overall, I think free to download open source GPL'd software with paid additional could be useful. Infact, I think that some projects actually use this topology. Then again, this would be pretty similar to what you are talking about.

But I was original talking about charging for the code itself.

I am confused...

273 09-23-2012 06:17 PM

You can't really "charge for the code" as you're obliged to make it available (that said I've seen discussion on how much can be charged to make the source available).
I don't mean exploiting bugs I mean making bespoke systems or tuning to run on the client hardware. It depends on what kind of software as to what exactly would be different for the client. If you're talking about a desktop application like Photoshop then I suppose there isn't much scope for tuning to the client needs but a document management system, a client management system or an ultra-fast 3D renderer may allow some per-client tuning.
Personally I don't think a business model of simply selling an application of which the code is released under the GPL is a very good one. It could make you money, and it's a noble, admirable one but not necessarily financially rewarding.
Of course there are people working very hard to produce code under the GPL and making a living from it. You only have to look to a distro prominent on this site for an example.

ntubski 09-23-2012 08:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smeezekitty (Post 4787514)
This sounds like it would be exploiting bugs in the GPL mode then anything. I do not believe this was really the intent IMO.

The GPL isn't meant to stop you from charging money, it only prevents you from having control over what other people do with the copies you sell/give them.

smeezekitty 09-23-2012 08:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ntubski (Post 4787597)
The GPL isn't meant to stop you from charging money, it only prevents you from having control over what other people do with the copies you sell/give them.

But couldn't someone make your code that you charge for available for free by buying it then putting it for free? If so, why charge for it?

ntubski 09-23-2012 08:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smeezekitty (Post 4787607)
But couldn't someone make your code that you charge for available for free by buying it then putting it for free? If so, why charge for it?

Yes, you can't expect a business model based on a monopoly over the code to work with GPL'd software. The GPL isn't meant to stop you from doing stupid things though. It's not a "bug" to charge for GLP'd software.

On the other hand, why would someone pay for code and then put it out for free?

273 09-23-2012 08:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ntubski (Post 4787623)
It's not a "bug" to charge for GLP'd software.

I think the "bug" comment was aimed at my understanding of how money could be charged for GPL software made to work better for clients? I didn't mean it in that way but I can see how it could be read to mean that.
Apologies to smeezekitty if it wasn't.

smeezekitty 09-23-2012 09:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 273 (Post 4787626)
I think the "bug" comment was aimed at my understanding of how money could be charged for GPL software made to work better for clients? I didn't mean it in that way but I can see how it could be read to mean that.
Apologies to smeezekitty if it wasn't.

What I meant is it is a bug to allow for pseudo proprietary software to be licensed under GPL.
No license is perfect.

273 09-23-2012 09:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smeezekitty (Post 4787642)
What I meant is it is a bug to allow for pseudo proprietary software to be licensed under GPL.
No license is perfect.

My apologies for misrepresenting your post.

sundialsvcs 09-23-2012 10:26 PM

Think about what these various open-source licenses are really intended to ensure: the business viability of open-source ... which is a concept with very obvious business advantages if the interests of all contributors are legally protected.

The critical provision (IMHO) is that "you can't take the source-code and close it." While it is perfectly all right for you to charge money to cover your costs, it's not okay for you to earn a profit and you can't claim a proprietary interest from any derivative-work. Common-sense phrases like "perfectly all right," or "not okay," are by themselves not good enough in a business setting: they have to be a legally enforceable copyright license that has withstood legal test, as GPL has.

From a software-engineering perspective, open source code is vital because it's the only efficient way to counteract the immense cost of computer software ... by virtue of sharing the burden among many.

Notice that I said, "immense cost of," not, "free." Computer software is one of the most expensive things that mankind has ever invented.

smeezekitty 09-23-2012 10:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 273 (Post 4787643)
My apologies for misrepresenting your post.

No issue. What I said didn't really come out right anyway.

ntubski 09-24-2012 07:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smeezekitty (Post 4787642)
What I meant is it is a bug to allow for pseudo proprietary software to be licensed under GPL.

I'm not sure what you mean by "pseudo proprietary".

Quote:

Originally Posted by sundialsvcs (Post 4787657)
While it is perfectly all right for you to charge money to cover your costs, it's not okay for you to earn a profit and you can't claim a proprietary interest from any derivative-work.

The GPL has no provisions against profit. It might be difficult to make a profit with GPL'd code, but that's because of the market, not the GPL.


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