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dannielum

Question about GNU license

25 posts in this topic

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.
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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.
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[url="http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html"]http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html[/url]
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[quote name = 'GNU']
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.
[/quote]

[quote name = 'GNU']
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.
[/quote]

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 -- [b]just make sure you document where appropriate in line with the license conditions [/b]etc.


I hope this helps and congratulations on a future profit
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Thanks for your reply. I am wondering if there is anything I need to do, like signing contract etc.?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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[quote name='Rattenhirn' timestamp='1332865247' post='4925723']
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.
[/quote]

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
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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?
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[quote name='dannielum' timestamp='1332866936' post='4925733']
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?
[/quote]

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)
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[quote name='dannielum' timestamp='1332866936' post='4925733']
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?
[/quote]

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
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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! :)
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[quote name='dannielum' timestamp='1332871111' post='4925755']
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! [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
[/quote]
[quote name='dannielum' timestamp='1332949197' post='4926007']
Any suggestion how to price it?
[/quote]
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.
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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?
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[quote name='Stormynature' timestamp='1332951611' post='4926026']
Use Frob's advice below +1
[/quote]

I will post a new thread. Thanks.
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Please note the anyone who talks about the "GNU license" is exhibiting the fact that they have no knowledge of the topic and their advice should generally be disregarded.

Discussing the GPL, LGPL, AGPL, or GFDL in any of their variants is a different matter.

Only a lawyer is qualified to be a lawyer and even then there may be some question. If you are doing business, you need to spend the cost of doing business. You will find a workman is worth his wages, either the easy way or the hard way.
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[quote name='Bregma' timestamp='1332958775' post='4926077']
Please note the anyone who talks about the "GNU license" is exhibiting the fact that they have no knowledge of the topic and their advice should generally be disregarded.

Discussing the GPL, LGPL, AGPL, or GFDL in any of their variants is a different matter.

Only a lawyer is qualified to be a lawyer and even then there may be some question. If you are doing business, you need to spend the cost of doing business. You will find a workman is worth his wages, either the easy way or the hard way.
[/quote]

Using the terminology "GNU licence" is mildly incorrect yes but mirroring it back to the OP is not in of itself an indication that advice should be generally disregarded. Call it laziness on my behalf for not referring it fully as the title of the link read "GNU General Public License, version 2" or its"Lesser" cousin and just simply cutting it down to GNU license in keeping with the OP's header and moreover to not overly complicate advice with extra letters.

I would be interested if you have a specific argument against the advice proferred.
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The Free Software Foundation has written a number of licenses, including the General Public License, the Lesser General Public License, and the Affero General Public License. The Free Software Foundation has also sponsored a project it entitled "GNU', which was an effort (mostly successful) to replace Unix. Much of the software in the GNU project is licensed using the Free Software Foundation's General Public License (also known as the GPL).

A discussion about a contract with GNU is hardly relevant to a discussion about a copyright holder selling his work privately while also distributing it under the GPL. When it comes to legal matters, the right words are important. Very, very important. You can not simply choose words arbitrarily and expect them to convey the correct meaning.
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@Dannielum: First of all allow me to apologise as the purpose of your thread has skewed somewhat into the beginnings of a debate between myself and Bregma.

[quote name='Bregma' timestamp='1333071627' post='4926518']
When it comes to legal matters, the right words are important. Very, very important. You can not simply choose words arbitrarily and expect them to convey the correct meaning.
[/quote]

Of course I can. Specifically to the case of this thread did you apprehend a confusion by Daniellum as to what I was referring to in anyway or would you accept that he understood what was being referred to and made sound cognitive judgements moreover did you presume by his header thread that he had no idea what he was referring to because he referred to a "GNU license". I do admit the entire point of this thread could be completely irrelevant if by circumstance the OP had linked the incorrect license appropriate to his work etc. but in the absence of actually sitting down with all of his paperwork and making a determination for myself, I have to make the assumption that he has done his homework to a degree and linked the appropriate source document. The GNU General Public License, version 2 was asked for and it was linked, it is common sense to understand that this was the primary reference document in the course of the conversation that occured. No other document was put forward to confuse the issue through identification issue and if indeed that had happened I would have altered aspects of my answer to ensure identification was not in doubt. However this is not the case, only the one document was linked by which all parties were referring to. If all parties refer to an object with different names but a complete understanding of the meaning and identification of what they are referring to then there is no misapprehension. However you do have a point of validity which you did not raise. A party external to the parties engaging the conversation might fail to perceive the conversation in a valid way i.e. someone else reading this forum.

However the above quote that I have selected is inherently flawed.

[url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statutory_interpretation"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statutory_interpretation[/url]
[url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_interpretation"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_interpretation[/url]
[url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpreting_contracts_in_English_law"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpreting_contracts_in_English_law[/url]

You cannot choose the "right words". Instead you choose words to impart the intent and meaning and you pray like the devil that you have successfully achieved that purpose, because if an alternative interpratation can legitimately be found, it will be in the legal system because that is what lawyers do. You will argue that I incorrectly used an inappropriately created term, I agreed with you in my previous post that I had but with the stipulation that the second part of your statement was erroneous i.e. without validity. I again point out that at no time in the thread's discussion was there confusion given by any of the parties as to the identity of the document being referenced being different to the one linked. Indeed clear identification of the document was not raised until your initial post.

Do I agree with the ideals of your post? Absolutely. But sir you are too focussed on one element and attempting to invalidate everything else by virtue of that element being incorrect. This is not math nor a pure science where such stratagems hold validity, this is the body of law and the nature of that beast is always being re-interpreted. So I shall again refer to my final point of the previous post, re-edited.

Excepting the issue of the GNU General Public License, version 2 document being referred to by an "incorrect" identification, do you have any issue with respect to the advice that was given? This is what interests me as this goes to the point of this entire thread, providing aid to the OP and if you have a point of concern or something I have missed I would be interested.

Please note that this in no way intended as a flame or other type of attack upon you.
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[quote name='Stormynature' timestamp='1332866185' post='4925728'][quote name='Rattenhirn' timestamp='1332865247' post='4925723']
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.
[/quote]

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.
[/quote]That's a very dangerous thing to say. It is either outright wrong or could at least be interpreted wrongly.

A contributor consents to the terms of the GPL. As such, he consents that his contributions are free as by the definition in the GPL. He also consents to the other terms, e.g. that you (or someone else, even someone not related to the project in any way) may copy, distribute, charge money for a copy of your library or program, and whatnot --- as long as they comply with the GPL, and only under this condition.

However, the contributor [b]does not [/b]consent to, and the GPL is very clear about this, that you are not allowed to re-license (for money or otherwise does not matter) the code in a way that gives the user less rights than the GPL grants. Thus, if you sell something that is under GPL to someone else knowing they will not make their final product GPL compliant (as in e.g. making source available and allowing updates, adaptation, etc.), then you may of course always do that as the sole author. You are always free to neglect or sell your own self-imposed rights.

But, the moment you have as much as one contributor and you do this without explicit consent, you're violating that contributor's rights (and the GPL).
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