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Question about GNU license


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#1 dannielum   Members   -  Reputation: 167

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 08:40 AM

I am getting an offer from a company requesting to purchase the copyright to use the source codes of my open source level editor under the GNU license for their commercial product, which they will not be distributing their source codes under the same GNU license. I am not sure how it works since this is the first time I am getting this kind of offer. Anyone know if I can sell my GNU licensed source codes with copyright exception to this company? Any info will be helpful. Thanks.
www.dannylum.com/games_projects.html - My Game Projectswww.dannylum.com/D2DProject - My Open Source 2D Map Editor

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#2 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3423

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 08:50 AM

Do you have a link or able to supply the GNU license details?

I should point out the reason I ask for this is that some software companies do allow products made under their license to be sold as a commodity separate from the license holder and some companies do not but the details would be held in the license you hold.

#3 dannielum   Members   -  Reputation: 167

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 09:03 AM

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html
www.dannylum.com/games_projects.html - My Game Projectswww.dannylum.com/D2DProject - My Open Source 2D Map Editor

#4 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3423

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 09:13 AM

Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things.


if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.


Short answer = Yes - On the basis of your post, you can sell your code no problems, the buyer will inherit a license automatically, whether they choose to accept it or not is up to them and irrelevant to you.

The terms and conditions are fairly reasonable here -- just make sure you document where appropriate in line with the license conditions etc.


I hope this helps and congratulations on a future profit

#5 dannielum   Members   -  Reputation: 167

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 09:29 AM

Thanks for your reply. I am wondering if there is anything I need to do, like signing contract etc.?
www.dannylum.com/games_projects.html - My Game Projectswww.dannylum.com/D2DProject - My Open Source 2D Map Editor

#6 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3423

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 09:51 AM

No. Just merely abide by the license conditions of internal documentation as well providing some written materials to the company buying it off you that GNU material is contained inside etc. Pretty much all you are being asked to do is acknowledge that part of your work is GNU based and give credit where credit is due.

Edit: Ah I should point out if you are selling your product then yes a contract is advisable or at least some form of recognisable sale. but that's only with regard to the company you are selling to. You don't need a contract with GNU at all as you already have one, and when the company you sell to takes your product they will also effectively have a licensing contract with GNU...but that is completely separate to you. All you need to do is simply paragraph 1 and you are covered.

#7 dannielum   Members   -  Reputation: 167

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 10:08 AM

Just to be clear... so I can still continue to distribute my source codes under the same GPL license and just sell the company the source codes under a different license which they will be free to do anything they want to the source codes and do not need to distribute it? Thanks.
www.dannylum.com/games_projects.html - My Game Projectswww.dannylum.com/D2DProject - My Open Source 2D Map Editor

#8 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3423

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 10:16 AM

yup

As long as you acknowledge the gnu portions inline with their conditions. What this means is simply your license for your work as well the GNU license for their work will both apply. For all intensive purposes they are two separate licenses that the company will be accepting but yours will be the one relevant to you and GNU one is simply passed by your documentation.

#9 Rattenhirn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1817

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 10:20 AM

Note that you only have the right to sell your code. If you have contributions of others in there, you need to get their consent.

#10 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3423

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 10:30 AM

MY apologies Dannielum, my brain just had a blood clot moment....Is your work licenced in such a way that it includes the GNU as directly part of it? This is fairly important question.

Gah going to shoot myself in the head ><


Edit: Just occured to me I am only interested if you patented it as a license, if you simply copyrighted it as a license my question is irrelevant and previous advice stands

#11 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3423

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 10:36 AM

Note that you only have the right to sell your code. If you have contributions of others in there, you need to get their consent.


You are correct sir. However if applying that to the GNU part then permissions are automatically granted under the licence so long as the documentation is crediting it. As to other parties definitely, unless it is under one organisation umbrella in which case the company owns the license and not the employees.

Edit: This advice fails to take into account 3rd party contributions under the GPL utilised - spoken of later in the thread

#12 dannielum   Members   -  Reputation: 167

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 10:48 AM

It is my personal project and the codes were written just by me. Although there were some volunteers testers and documentation writers that helped me on the project. So does it make anything different?
www.dannylum.com/games_projects.html - My Game Projectswww.dannylum.com/D2DProject - My Open Source 2D Map Editor

#13 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6325

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 10:55 AM

It is my personal project and the codes were written just by me. Although there were some volunteers testers and documentation writers that helped me on the project. So does it make anything different?


No, only other copyright holders have a say in the licensing (Testers do not hold any copyrights to your work, the documentation writers would hold the copyright to the documentation they've written though unless they've signed it over to you and you might need their permission to distribute the documentation) so the GPL only matters if you are using other peoples GPL licensed work (as the GPL then dictates the terms under which you are allowed to use their work)
I don't suffer from insanity, I'm enjoying every minute of it.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

#14 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3423

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 11:02 AM

It is my personal project and the codes were written just by me. Although there were some volunteers testers and documentation writers that helped me on the project. So does it make anything different?


I am going to assume you did not take out a patent then...if you did let me know as it would be relevant to the GNU issue.

Volunteer testers would hold no rights persay over your code unless you gave them rights.

Document writers - if you paid them they have no claim - if they volunteered then possibly they might have a claim but not with respect to your coding - only with regard a copyright of their documentation work which I am assuming was consigned to you, unless of course you accorded them rights.

I would suggest that for future "volunteer" situations you have a simple contract that acknowledges them as donating their work and holding no right to claim on the basis of this donation.



Meh: Simon types faster than I do :P

#15 dannielum   Members   -  Reputation: 167

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 11:58 AM

Thanks both of you for the explanations. So, I guess I will just negotiate with the company about selling them the source codes with GPL exceptions. Thanks again! :)
www.dannylum.com/games_projects.html - My Game Projectswww.dannylum.com/D2DProject - My Open Source 2D Map Editor

#16 dannielum   Members   -  Reputation: 167

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 09:39 AM

Any suggestion how to price it?
www.dannylum.com/games_projects.html - My Game Projectswww.dannylum.com/D2DProject - My Open Source 2D Map Editor

#17 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3423

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 10:20 AM

Use Frob's advice below +1

#18 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22796

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 10:22 AM

Thanks both of you for the explanations. So, I guess I will just negotiate with the company about selling them the source codes with GPL exceptions. Thanks again! Posted Image

Any suggestion how to price it?

Both of these are excellent questions for a business lawyer.

You absolutely should have a lawyer help you with the negotiations. That is what they do. They work with contracts in exactly the same way a programmer works with code.

Business lawyers are also very experienced at coming up with valuations for products. They know what source code is selling for, how much to ask, and how much to accept.


If you don't have a lawyer you may discover that you signed a contract written entirely in their favor that ends up leaving you exposed to all kinds of problems. Topics like IP rights, indemnity, severability, and venues are all very important and you are likely to get some of them wrong unless you have help from a lawyer who understands it.

Just like a non-programmer trying to write complex source code, a non-lawyer trying to write a contract is likely to end up with serious problems.

The cost of a lawyer is pretty cheap; in my area it is about $150/hr. Compare that with the potential cost of a bad contract, which through indemnity clauses and other problems could potentially hold you liable for a fortune in a worst-case scenario.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#19 dannielum   Members   -  Reputation: 167

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 10:28 AM

I was thinking to price it a few hundreds, so hiring lawyer might end up spending more money than actually earning it. Can anyone sell GPL exceptions before share their opinions on how they price their products?
www.dannylum.com/games_projects.html - My Game Projectswww.dannylum.com/D2DProject - My Open Source 2D Map Editor

#20 dannielum   Members   -  Reputation: 167

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 10:28 AM

Use Frob's advice below +1


I will post a new thread. Thanks.
www.dannylum.com/games_projects.html - My Game Projectswww.dannylum.com/D2DProject - My Open Source 2D Map Editor




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