Hot answers tagged

207

If you wrote the program yourself (as opposed to having modified somebody else's program or incorporated parts of somebody else's program(s)) and simply licensed it to others under the GPL, then you are in no way obligated to do anything by the GPL. It's unfortunate that you're missing the source and that others who want it are unable to obtain it, but it's ...


121

Just tell them that you've lost the sources. You are not in legal trouble because you as the original sole author (license grantor) are not subject to the GPL. Even if your code was subject to GPL because you incorporated another person's GPL'ed code, you're not in trouble if you released your code more than three years ago. GPLv2 says (emphasis mine): ...


118

This is a great question and speaks to a lot of confusion about the GPL. The answer is mostly “yes” here, but since the GPL is frequently seen as very scary, it is important to understand why this is allowed. Note that you say two contradictory things in your post, first that you don't actually distribute the software, only its output and the ...


114

Your question concerns a case where Author A publishes original work under the GNU GPL, and then Person B uploads it to GitHub. You ask whether it would be possible for the transaction between Person B and GitHub to affect the ownership of copyright title to the work by Author A. Simply put: no. Person B does not have standing to perform a transfer of title ...


60

Two things. First, Linux does not require contributors to assign copyright to some central person. Copyright on it is spread out among many, many people (including some who are dead, in which case much effort would be required to figure out who inherited the copyright). Any of them could stop a license switch, unless someone goes through and removes all ...


59

APSillers' answer is excellent, but I'd add one thing: although by licensing under the GPL you gave permission to anyone to redistribute your code, you by the same mechanism required that such redistribution be under the relevant version of the GPL. If this github repository isn't clearly GPL'ed, then a copyright violation is occurring, and you as the ...


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 ...


55

Basically yes to everything you say, although politically it may get complicated. Section 10 of the GPL v3 forbids any further restrictions your rights under the license: You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights granted or affirmed under this License. "For research purposes only" is exactly the sort of term this is ...


53

The GPL gives you a few options for how to distribute source code. Typically, you distribute source at the time you distribute the binary. However, section 3(b) of the GPLv2 allows you to distribute a work based on another GPL-licensed work, in binary form, as long as you also Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any ...


50

You should be able to request the complete corresponding modified source code to the complete application from your vendor under the GPL without additional costs in excess of the media. If he refuses, you can contact the FSF as the copyright holder to GCC and tell them your problems with that vendor: they are the only ones who can sue for compliance if the ...


50

Yes, what is being done on that fork is entirely legal. However, you are also allowed to take the useful changes (like the translation) and incorporate them in your own fork. Then you can advertise it as the ad-free version that users might like better.


49

If your plugin is a derivative work of the GPL-covered software, then you can only publish/share/distribute your plugin under the terms of the GPL. It is not clear when a plugin is a derivative work. It seems to be the belief of the FSF (the GPL authors) that the following aspects can indicate derivativeness: the plugin is designed to be combined with a ...


48

A license either is an open-source license, or it restricts usage of the software to certain regions or types of usage. You cannot have both. That said, it is not your responsibility as the software creator to forbid people the usage when the law already forbids the usage. That serves no purpose (law overrides license, always) and would impose an unnecessary ...


47

The FSF believes, in the jurisdictions they have considered, that the transfer of GPL-licensed software by an employer to an employee, for the fulfillment of their responsibilities as an agent of the employer, does not constitute distribution, so any conditions that GPL imposes on distribution do not apply: Is making and using multiple copies within one ...


46

From the FAQ on gnu.org: Is the developer of a GPL-covered program bound by the GPL? Could the developer's actions ever be a violation of the GPL? (#DeveloperViolate) Strictly speaking, the GPL is a license from the developer for others to use, distribute and change the program. The developer itself is not bound by it, so no matter what the developer does, ...


43

Generally yes, the output is not covered by the license. However you say you will redistribute the virtual machine with the pipeline setup. Nope, providing the virtual machine with executable binaries is the distribution of the executable binaries so please source code on the table. Just wrapping the virtual machine around does not change anything.


39

Software licensed with any GNU license can be used and even modified everywhere, including in a corporate environment, without any restrictions. However be aware that if you (or the company) ever make changes to the software and want to distribute it, it must be distributed with full source code, on the same license terms as the original software. Also if ...


39

IANAL/IANYL. That said, the FSF, who are generally thought of as arguing for a fairly wide interpretation of what the GPL covers, are reasonably clear that the proprietary program and the GPL wrapper program in your example are not derivative works of each other, and their appearance together is mere aggregation: By contrast, [...] command-line arguments ...


39

There is no requirement whatsoever in any version of the GPL to maintain a reference to some upstream project. Imagine if you use substantial code from multiple GPL-licensed projects: the GitHub website only allows one "upstream" pointer anyway. GitHub's upstream link is only a helpful reference and is unrelated to any license requirements.


39

I believe them that they want to release it eventually, but it's not legal to delay like this, right? If indeed Fairphone is distributing a device with an embedded Linux kernel but not making the corresponding source available to recipients of that device, that's a rather cut-and-dry GPL violation. An author whose work is included in Fairphone's version of ...


38

To any recipients. You do not have to make the source code available to the public, but have to provide the source code to anyone who received the software from you. The details here depend on how you want to provide the source code (see section 6 of the GPLv3): The easiest way is to always bundle the corresponding source code when you give someone a copy ...


34

I don't think you can distribute the code, but I think you can sue the guy. You're the copyright owner ("you" meaning you and your co-authors), and he's a licensee, under the gpl. He violated his license agreement, and that gives you a civil cause of action against him. But I'm not a lawyer (though my father, brother, ex all are), so you might want to check ...


34

The definition of Free Software includes anyone being able to use the software for any purpose (any field of endeavor and no discrimination against persons or groups). So no version of the GPL, or any other Free Software license can prevent the DoD or any other government entity from using the software. Note that some software or the things that some ...


33

ArtOfCode's answer correctly describes Carol's situation relative to Alice's code: violation of Alice's original license (which is not the GPL) and therefore infringement of Alice's copyright. The terms of the GPL are not relevant except in that they are incompatible with Alice's license. However, Bob's code is originally licensed under the GPL, and the ...


32

Putting software under the GPL does not mean abandoning ownership? Absolutely not. In nations signatory to the Berne Convention, copyright is the default, which means by default only the author (or current copyright holder, if the original author transfers the copyright) may reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, etc. The author of a work may use ...


31

You don't have to publish your Linux software under the GPL. You are of course welcome to do so, but you are under no legal obligation. You've taken a mental shortcut: “using a GPL library means I have to license under GPL”. But the GPL (and copyright law in general) doesn't care about what other software you use, but only whether your software is a ...


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


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 ...


30

If an employee makes a modified copy of a GPLv3-licensed open source library on the job, is that modified copy property of the employer? No. But the modifications are their property, in most countries, either under the local equivalent of the work for hire doctrine, or through a specific provision of the employee's contract. At that point, the new work's ...


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