my distribution scheme for GPLed software

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at
Tue Mar 4 12:18:02 UTC 2003

I don't see any GPL violations but I don't think this experiment
will work.

The "Official Version" idea is a trademarks issue, not a copyright
issue so the GPL doesn't cover it.

The Abisource developers use a similar idea, "Abiword" is
their trademark, it is the name (or mark) of the program
*as they distribute it*, if you alter the source and recompile, you
have to call it a different name (they suggest "Abiword Personal").

The charging for downloads is ok too.  If the program was compilable,
binary downloads would not be required.

The reason I don't think this will work is on accout of it's hairyness.
I also think it goes against the some of the technical benefits of
Free software.

It adds hassle to aquiring a current copy of the source, and creates
a financial disincentive to upgrading (the user would have to pay
again (at some point)).

Something rms says may apply here, this distribution method creates
and artificial block to getting the software, artificial since it
is not part of developing or using the software and is not a
required part of passing the software on to others.  This takes
away from the net value of the software.

He goes on to give the example of motorways, if a tool booth
was placed half way between each junction, a very fair way to
get drivers to pay for roads would emerge, but the roads system
as a whole would be devalued since an artificial hassle has been
added.  Roads should be charged for in a less invasive, equally
accurate way such as taxing petrol.

His advice for how individuals can make money from Free software
is a little thinner, it seems to boil down to charging for
giving tutorials, charging for adding features etc., and charging
for support.  (i.e. charge for you time (which is limited), not
for copies (which require no resources)).

I'm not a lawyer either, and I'm not an FSF staff member, but I
hope this helps anyway.

On Tue, Mar 04, 2003 at 12:31:09PM +0100, Laurent Guerby wrote:
> I'm not sure adding things to the license is the best way to do it,
> the GPL looks like it prohibits further restrictions.
> I'm not a lawyer, may be FSF people can comment on it.

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