October 6th, 2003, 06:51 PM
GNU (GPL) Licensing...
I have finally completed my first "real" script that I want to offer as freeware to the public under the GPL license.
1. Does this mean that people can take my script that I am offering for free and sell it legally?
2. Can they also modify it, claim it as their own and sell it legally? 3. Finally, is there anything I can do to prevent it?
I am talking about the GNU license unalterred.
Comments on this post
October 6th, 2003, 06:55 PM
1. They cannot sell it. They can charge people for installation and service. They cannot claim to have written it. You hold the copyright.
2. They can change it and give it away, but they must include the source code, and they must document the changes they made and release that documentation with every copy of their modified version. They can take credit for the changes they made, but nothing else.
3. You can take them to court.
October 6th, 2003, 07:44 PM
#3 seems to be the worst these days. Not so much that people sell the script, but people list it on thier script archive sites as their own (the evil ones remove your name and the copyright comments, too). It's not common, but more common than people selling your script (unless you've got a really snazzy script). I think xvid had a problem a few years back with someone swiping a big chunk of their code and going commercial.
October 6th, 2003, 08:55 PM
Yes, but they can't claim it as there own, so what good would it do them to try? The customer could just get it from you for free. They could take your version and modify it and sell THAT if they have something new that people are willing to pay for, but they still have to credit you for the original.
Yes, see above (they can't claim the whole thing as their own though).
Not under the GPL, but if you have something truly unique and innovative such that people are willing to sell it and you want to make money off of it, the GPL isn't the way to go.
The GPL is about keeping software "free" in the sense that it's not restricted by some individual or corporate - everyone can get it and look at it and modify it.
Don't worry about people trying to sell it. If they build something they can sell (without ripping you out of the notice and claiming to own it - a reportable violation of the GPL and suable copyright infringement) then they must have put a good deal of work into modifying your original concept so that it's something a group of people is willing to buy. Otherwise, they'd just come get your free copy. And if they put that much work into beefing up, porting, etc. then why worry if they sell it? They did the work, and you'll still get credit for building the foundation.
FWIW, I'm in the process of releasing all the code I have that's not tied to my employer or other contracts under the GPL. Lots of people have downloaded this one, but it hasn't popped up anywhere else yet that I've seen - and certainly noone is trying to sell it.
Forgot to post the FAQ for the GPL:
October 6th, 2003, 10:08 PM
So let's say that I'm the consumer, and I find this really awesome perl or php script that is being sold on someones website for a pretty high price. I decide, "hey, looks cool, why not give it a try." After paying for the script I recieve a tar file that contains the source and at the top, commented, I see
# Script Name 2.39
# http://www.com.com (website of free version)
Is this legal? I read the gpl site's faw and descriptions, but what you're saying is that someone can take my script, "beef" it up and sell it all legally, as long as they show the original owners comments?
October 6th, 2003, 10:44 PM
What If I distribute the software with only this in the header, no copywrite tag, but in the readme state that it is under the GPL?
# Version: 1.23
# bob bob (firstname.lastname@example.org)
People can take it/edit or "beef it up" and sell it legally is that correct?
This may be repetative, but I want to fully understand this.
October 6th, 2003, 11:05 PM
I just researched some more into GPL and here is what I found
Quake 2 released it's source code to the public, they stated...
create a true total conversion, you can give (or sell) a complete package
hmmm, all the more interesting
October 6th, 2003, 11:15 PM
I thought the GPL stated that derivitive works must be released under the GPL, too.
I think they were talking about the media: the graphics, the maps, etc. You can sell the game but you have to make the source for the engine and your modifications to it available, but when you sell it, you're really selling the graphics you created for it, their engine just happens to come with it. Or at least that's my take on it.
Last edited by icrf; October 6th, 2003 at 11:19 PM.
October 6th, 2003, 11:35 PM
I just used the quake thing as an example. The reason I am posting so much is because I have one guy at the top telling me people can't legally sell, but another one stating that it is legal..?
October 7th, 2003, 03:47 AM
It can be difficult to sell GPLed programs, though perfectly legal.
Another company/individual is entitled to use your code for whatever purpose they want. If they wish, they can make improvements to your code and then sell it. However, this 'derivative work' must also be released under the GPL, which means that anybody they sell it to is within their rights to copy it for friends or even make it available for free download from their own site. This means that although it is possible and legal to sell GPL-protected code, it rarely makes good business sense.
October 7th, 2003, 08:49 AM
Noone is stopping anyone else from selling it, but I think you're missing the point. If they're literally selling YOUR copy, only idiots would buy it because they can always come get it from YOU for free.
IF, on the other hand, the person doing the selling has made significant modifications to the code by porting, enhancing, or warranting it, etc, they might actually find buyers. If that's the case though, why would you care? They obviously put a significant amount of work into improving on your original concept and created a product people are willing to pay for. You still credit for being the building block though via your copyright notice in your code.
The perrenial example is Linux. Linux is free at kernel.org and pretty much all of the tools can be had for free from around the net, yet people still buy a distribution from Red Hat. That's because, while Red Hat didn't MAKE most of what they're selling, they did go to the trouble of collecting it all into a nice form and making it easy to install, supported, and easy to update. You pay them for the convenience they added, not for someone else's code. There are more ways to add value to a product than just making it, and that's what other people would be able to sell using your code as a base - the value THEY add. If they add no value, people will just come get your code for free.
Additional note in reference to icrf:
Noone is obligated to accept the GPL or place it on derivative works. However, if something is licensed under the GPL, they can't redistribute the code or modified versions of the code - since the GPL covers distribution - until they accept the terms of the GPL. They can still USE the code because the GPL doesn't cover usage.
Last edited by Ctb; October 7th, 2003 at 08:54 AM.