Hot answers tagged

58

The GPL, and software licensing in general, must be understood in the wider context of copyright. Only the copyright holder of a software can issue a license. You have no rights to the software, except through the license (and except for copyright exceptions in your jurisdiction). The GPL does not give you the right to re-publish the software under any ...


31

Yes, the GPL is a free software licence, and one of the properties of free (as in freedom) software is that you can use it for anything, including providing commercial online services. This is not only legal; it is common. Ángel’s answer provided some good examples. A comment on the question mentioned the LAMP stack (half of which – Linux and MySQL – is GPL ...


31

You can indeed. GPLv2 and GPLv3 only require that you distribute the source code when you're distributing the binaries. In the case of software-as-a-service you're not distributing binaries and, as such, you're under no obligation to distribute your source code either. This is sometimes referred to as the SaaS loophole


23

The crucial statement there is "terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation". So yes, if the FSF should decide that a future version of the GPL should look more like a BSD-style license, a software released under GPL v3+ would then be eligible to be distributed under that newer version and exercise the ...


19

If code is licensed strictly under a specific version of the GNU GPL, future versions have no effect for that specifically-licensed code. For code that is licensed under "version 3 or any later version," then recipients could choose to apply (a possibly more permissive) GPLv4, whenever one comes into existence, and enjoy whatever permissive terms ...


14

Copyright does not allow for that. You need to wait 70 years after the copyright holders' deaths to do this. In that respect it is no different from a closed source license: If you want to change the license, you need permission. Back around 2000 Larry Lessig had a lecture where he explained there are may works, where we cannot contact the author (https://en....


7

Indeed, the default license is “all rights reserved”. On the other hand, facts are not copyrightable. If any reasonable representation of these facts would result in the essentially same header file, there is an argument that there is nothing copyrightable in the header file (compare the US merger doctrine concept, though there's similar case law in the EU). ...


7

Yes, there have been lots of lawsuits involving open source licenses. The GPL is a very popular license and been involved in a large share of that litigation. The result is that open source licenses and the GPL have been recognized as effective and enforceable licensing tools in many jurisdictions around the world. However, it might not be possible to ...


7

Yes, absolutely, and it is important that the GPL allows this. First, the FSF encourages people to sell free software when possible (emphasis mine): Actually, we encourage people who redistribute free software to charge as much as they wish or can. If a license does not permit users to make copies and sell them, it is a nonfree license. [...] Free programs ...


6

Yes, it is legal to sell GPL-licensed software as long as you keep the terms and conditions of the GPL. Those terms and conditions are that you cannot use a different license than the GPL (which gives the recipients certain rights with regard to making changes and redistribution) and that you make the source code available to the recipients. The GPL license ...


5

"Versions" means a potential GPL v3.1, v4, v5 and so on. "Revisions" is not used in the text you have quoted. With regards to the "proxy" paragraph, it is possible for you, the copyright holder to license a program with something like This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of ...


5

Such a license term is clearly not legally binding on the FSF, since FSF is not a party to the license. But the “similar in spirit” clause may limit how the “or any later version” clause can actually be used. Scenario: Abby the author publishes a work under GPL-3.0-or-later. The FSF publishes a hypothetical GPL-4.0 license with unreasonable terms, e.g. ...


4

The title says: Is it possible that a future GPL version removes copyleft? When we read this together with the body, we find two closely related interpretations: Is it possible that a future GPL version (say v4) is a non-copyleft licence? Is it possible that GPLv4 will make works already licenced under GPLv2 or GPLv3 “non-copyleft” as well? The first ...


4

It's complicated. As others have already stated, "distributing" (GPLv2) or "conveying" (GPLv3) software by selling it is explicitly permitted by both the GPLv2 and GPLv3 as long as the terms of the license are not violated. Any licensee is completely free to sell GPL software and make money off of it. The complication stems from the ...


4

I note that the text you quote doesn't appear in the GPL FAQ, but comes from the advice section at the end of the GPL entitled "How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs". This section, as I understand it, is a collection of best-practice advice on publishing your code under the GPL, rather than a set of legal requirements. You don't even ...


4

You have written some application code de novo. This code is linked to the Microsoft .net runtime libraries, which are themselves under an MIT licence (as you, and others, note above). You intend to distribute this as part of a commercially-available appliance, running on a Raspberry Pi which will itself be running Raspbian (now known as Raspberry Pi OS). ...


4

This answer is predicated on the assumption that dynamic linking does make a derivative work for copyright purposes, which is not a settled issue (pro, contra). That said, in my opinion, you may not do this. Any additional code used in a GPLv2 program falls under GPLv2 s2b, which says that You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in ...


3

Does the fact that I sign and distribute runtime & SDK used to write the component oblige me to change the component's license to MIT / Apache2? No, software under Apache 2 or MIT/Expat/X11 licenses may be used within software under virtually any license. These are "permissive" licenses which means they don't impose many requirements (other ...


3

tl;dr: you must release your code under the GPL. What is a derivative work is defined by copyright law. Assuming the 20 lines of code are non-trivial1, then they are entitled to copyright protection in their own right, and therefore the GPL applies to them. That means the terms of the GPL apply and if you use them you must release your whole app under the ...


3

It is sort of True but it is not the normal GPL. (and after listening to a bit more I would note that the speaker is showing that Apple uses Free software and that is a good thing and is not commenting on legalities - which a simple reading of the question here might guess is what the OP is asking) On iOS 14 I see a couple of copies of the LGPL which you can ...


2

The question, as stated, is: Can the Linux kernel be released under GPLv3? Yes, of course. If all the copyright holders involved agree to release the kernel under GPLv3, or any other licence, then they can do so. But the real question seems to be: Can the Linux kernel be used under GPLv3? As the question stated, Wikipedia says “no”. So what about that ...


2

There are ways around this, depending on the version of the GPL. Earlier versions of the GPL made it possible to build the code into a standalone executable or a DLL which could be dynamically linked. With a suitable license you could legitimately fork the software, maintaining its GPL license, and being careful with how you call/execute that code. You would ...


2

Yes, you can. You can for instance provide a machine running a Linux kernel (GPLv2), with a web server using GnuTLS (LGPLv2.1+) and a web site built on Wordpress (GPLv2+). From a business point of view, you should however take into account whether that is accessory or the main value of your service and which additional value you are providing. For example, ...


2

There are three general flavours of the GPL around: The AGPL forces you to hand out source code to any user of your software upon request. For the AGPL, it doesn't matter, if the users downloaded the software as a binary to their machine or if they use it over a network on your server. The GPL requires you to hand out source code only, if you provided a ...


2

Does it mean "this and newer" version? Yes. The + symbol is used to informally indicate that the license is the specified version or any later version. It is so much shorter than the phrase "or any later version", although that is what you should still use in the official license indications. This usage is only common with the GPL suite ...


1

I found https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/110380/call-gpl-software-from-non-gpl-software that directs to https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#MereAggregation Where's the line between two separate programs, and one program with two parts? This is a legal question, which ultimately judges will decide. We believe that a proper ...


1

Your conclusions are correct, under the assumption that the communication between the GPL executable and the rest of your software package is "at arm's length". This effectively means that your software package must communicate with the GPL executable using communication channels that are typically used to communicate between independent ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible