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I am planning on selling software which is licensed under GPL 3. I have gone through the terms and conditions listed in the GPL 3 license. However, I would like to know if any of the following scenarios will violate the GPL 3 license:

  1. Can I charge the customer for software? This includes selling the software as well as charging for technical support?

  2. If the software is known by name 'ABC', can I change the name of software to 'xyz'.This may include changing the logo, name on the UI?

  3. Do I need to provide the copy of source code voluntarily? I am fine to provide the source code if some body asks for it.

  4. Is it necessary to publish the modified source code if I host it in the cloud?

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Can I charge the customer for software? This includes selling the software as well as charging for technical support?

Yes, you can sell software that is licensed under the GPL v3. Section 4 addresses distributing verbatim copies. You must keep the copyright notices and licenses and give all recipients a copy of the license. When selling the software, you can choose to charge a fee for distribution, provide warrantees, or offer support packages.

If the software is known by name 'ABC', can I change the name of software to 'xyz'.This may include changing the logo, name on the UI?

Your changes would be a derivative work and covered by Section 5 of the GPL v3. You must add notices that you have modified the software and you must license your derivative work under the GPL v3.

Do I need to provide the copy of source code voluntarily? I am fine to provide the source code if some body asks for it.

Section 6 of the license addresses this. If you do not distribute the source code with the executable object code, you must provide the license and a written notice about how to obtain the source code. There are some caveats as to what is acceptable if you are providing the software as part of a commercial offering.

Is it necessary to publish the modified source code if I host it in the cloud?

No. Usage over a network does not count as distribution, and you only need to provide the source code to people who receive your executable object code. This "gap" led to the creation of the GNU Affero General Public License.

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  • The third part is an oversimplification of section 6: there are some caveats even for noncommercial offerings (although that may not be relevant here) and the notice need not be written, depending on which option you choose. Also, this part of the answer says “you must provide the license”, but this would have been true anyway, even if the source code was distributed with the object code. Mar 27 at 13:26
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  1. Can I charge the customer for software? This includes selling the software as well as charging for technical support?

Yes, GPL v3 is a free software licence, and you are always allowed to do these things with free (as in freedom) software. In fact, GPL v3 section 4 explicitly covers both of these issues:

You may charge any price … for each copy that you convey, and you may offer support … for a fee.

Back to the question:

  1. If the software is known by name 'ABC', can I change the name of software to 'xyz'.This may include changing the logo, name on the UI?

Yes, you are always allowed to do this with free software. However, this produces a derivative work, and some licences, including GPL v3, have special rules for derivative works. GPL v3 section 5 covers derivative works; in summary, you must:

  1. Add notices about the changes.
  2. Release your modified version under GPL v3 (or AGPL v3 – see section 13).
  3. Ensure that interactive user interfaces display the appropriate notices.
  1. Do I need to provide the copy of source code voluntarily? I am fine to provide the source code if some body asks for it.

GPL v3 section 6 covers this. In summary, when you convey object code, you must either include a copy of the source code or information about how to obtain the source code. The details depend on how you convey the object code and whether the distribution is commercial.

  1. Is it necessary to publish the modified source code if I host it in the cloud?

No, GPL v3 never requires publishing source code. The most you might need to do is, when you convey the object code to someone, convey the source code as well.

Assuming you mean SaaSS (or, as most people call it, SaaS), you do not need to convey the source code at all. But if you, say, implement the service as a webpage that includes JavaScript, then the JavaScript part would count as conveying and be subject to all the usual rules of conveying. Under GPL v3, this would include making the modified source code available, as discussed above.

Also watch out for the similar licence AGPL (Affero General Public Licence), which was designed specifically for this situation. That licence would require you to make the modified source code available to users in this situation.

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