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208 votes
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I lost the source code for programs I released as GPL. What to do?

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 ...
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129 votes
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Can I use GPL libraries in a closed source project if only the output is distributed?

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 ...
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  • 1,676
122 votes

I lost the source code for programs I released as GPL. What to do?

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 ...
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115 votes

If someone else uploads my GPL'd code to Github without my permission, do they not put it at risk of being stolen by Microsoft?

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 ...
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  • 31.3k
61 votes

Why does Linux still use the GPLv2?

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 ...
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  • 711
59 votes

If someone else uploads my GPL'd code to Github without my permission, do they not put it at risk of being stolen by Microsoft?

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 ...
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  • 38.5k
59 votes
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Can I relicense an abandoned GPL project if the copyright owners are no longer responsive?

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, ...
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  • 33.8k
55 votes

Is GPL "for research purposes only" self-contradictory?

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 ...
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53 votes
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Am I legally required to provide a (GPL licensed) source code even after a project is abandoned?

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 ...
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51 votes
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Can others monetize my project with GPLv3?

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 ...
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50 votes
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Is requiring a license a violation of the GPL? Can I get around it?

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,...
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  • 516
49 votes
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How can GPL terms apply to distribution of a proprietary plugin?

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. ...
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  • 33.8k
48 votes
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Forbid distribution of the app licensed with GPL v3 in certain countries

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 ...
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  • 8,460
47 votes
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Can an NDA block GPL freedom number 4?

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 ...
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  • 31.3k
46 votes

I lost the source code for programs I released as GPL. What to do?

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 ...
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  • 597
43 votes

Can I use GPL libraries in a closed source project if only the output is distributed?

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 ...
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  • 691
40 votes

Is it legal to use GPL code in a proprietary, closed-source program by putting it in a separate, standalone program?

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 ...
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  • 38.5k
39 votes
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Can GPL licenced software be used in corporate environments?

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 ...
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39 votes
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Is keeping the forking link on a true fork necessary? (Github/GPL)

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 ...
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  • 31.3k
39 votes
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Is Fairphone violating the GPL with its newest Fairphone 3?

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 ...
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  • 31.3k
38 votes

GPLv3 forces us to make code available, but to whom?

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 ...
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  • 33.8k
35 votes
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So the GPL doesn't restrict the creator of the software in any way?

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 (...
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  • 31.3k
34 votes

Can I use my client's GPL software?

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 ...
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34 votes

Do the licences permit GPL- and BSD-licensed applications to be used for government work?

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 ...
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  • 975
34 votes

Can I disregard GPL just because I use autoconf?

The exception says that “you may include it”, where it is the build scripts generated by autoconf. This is not a broad GPL exception that would apply to any GPL-licensed software. The autotools ...
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  • 33.8k
33 votes
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Why doesn't this GPL loophole work?

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 ...
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  • 446
31 votes
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Should I publish everything running on Linux under GPL?

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 ...
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  • 33.8k
31 votes
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Can I use GPL software to provide a commercial cloud service?

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 ...
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  • 488
31 votes

Can I use GPL software to provide a commercial cloud service?

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 ...
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