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SaraSweet

GNU Public License Agreement

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I am about to dive head first into the GNU Public License Agreement, but before I do have several questions to anyone in the know. 1. Why do so many software/freeware developers choose the GNU license to regulate the bounds of its EULAs? (What I''m really asking is what benefits/advantages does the GNU offer over other agreements?) 2. Is the GNU Public License Agreement itself (i.e. the actual wording and fair use of) open/free/within public domain for developers such as myself who want their software to be bound by the GNU Public License Agreement? Sara

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The GPL is not an EULA so much as an "End Re-distributor License Agreement". The few programs that force the user to agree to it during installation like a EULA really shouldn''t do that. The GPL doesn''t restrict a user, it gives the user a method where they can become a legal redistributor including redistribution of a modified work; by default, under international copyright law, only the copyright holder has rights to redistribute (which notable exceptions classified as "fair use").

As for the rights given for the GPL itself:
quote:
The GNU General Public License (GPL)
Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

So, basically, if one wants something that''s not quite the GPL, one should be using the GPL as a base. If you''d like to apply additional exceptions, it''s common practice to keep them seperate from the copy of the GPL one distributes.

If you have a specific scenario in mind, it''d probably be easiest to "answer" it. Also, the FSF and/or Stallman will answer questions if you want to ask something you think only they could answer. I''m no lawyer, so I make no assertions that my answer is mistake-free .

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If you just want to compare GPL with other open source licenses,
then one important thing that sticks out is that it is pretty restrictive for people who use the source released under the GPL.
In most (or all?) cases they have to release the source of the program they create.
That is good for the community. Less good for pepole who want to sell their product.

It is possible to provide a library with a dual license. That people can pay a fee and then don't have to release the source.

A more liberal license is the MPL 1.1, pretty popular too.
It is possible to make a commercial closed source program, as long as the library released under the MPL 1.1 is not changed.
If it is changed only the changes have to be published.
Not the source of the whole program. Still good for the community (just not quite as ...).

Guys ... correct me if I'm wrong please

[edited by - Clueless on June 2, 2004 5:03:03 AM]

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quote:
Original post by Clueless
That is good for the community. Less good for pepole who want to sell their product.


What "community" are you referring to? Code-stealing GPL bast.. eh.. people?
I say it''s best avoid using any license at all. If you want to release your source (for some odd reason) then do it the old way: public domain.
Usually there is no reason to release your source code, because I think every imaginable programming stuff is already released as more useful code snippets. The Net is also full of good tutorials about programming.
GPL is just a way to restrict the real free programming.

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yeah, GPL is quite restrictive when it comes to the people who want to use the code in closed source programs.

I prefer the BSD license or why not just the beer ware license, that''s pure good will and so simple.

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1. The GPL is very common because it''s a license that commoditizes software while also encouraging its improvement. Software''s value is almost nothing, once it''s been coded and released to the world, since it can be copied so easily. Thus it makes sense to provide it under terms that will foster its continued development and usage.

Under extremely liberal terms of use like the public domain, you might end up with 50 people who use and improve a program, but who refuse to share their improvements. This is an unhappy situation; the user gets 50 choices, each with various advantages but which are probably all incompatible with each other, and while the *possibility* of having all 50 in one unified package was there, it was squandered. Similarly, once a piece of software for a certain application is written it shouldn''t have to be duplicated several times over by rival corporations competing for market share. This is simply an inefficent use of resources.

In short, the GPL is basically the manifestation of a common-sense policy for the development of widely-used applications - allow the entire community to contribute, making the program continuously more useful over time, and supported by everyone who uses it; because ultimate control of the code goes to nobody in particular, unlike many other open-source licenses, bad project management, company failure etc. doesn''t spell the doom of a piece of software. It''s not a necessary license for every program, and it is of only dubious usefulness to most game projects(since games are focused towards a very specific end, and usually have little reason for continuous development) but it makes sense for a lot of the BIG, GENERAL ones like operating systems, office apps, libraries, etc.

2. I don''t think there''s any rule against its use, or of rolling your own version of the license. If you made the code, you determine how it gets used.

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