juridical Question on software and GPL

Moritz Sinn moritz at freesources.org
Fri Mar 26 19:37:25 UTC 2004

I'd say its allowed what they do, because they deliver the source code
with the program and that's exactly what the GPL demands.  But GPL also says:

  1. You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's
source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you
conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate
copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the
notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty;
and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License
along with the Program.

so if you buy the program you can put the sourcecode on a public
webserver from where everyone can get it for free. that's why this
business model doesn't work with free software.

they also say:

"You only pay for the service for installion, support and programming."

service and support is ok but programming is not and cannot be. product
of programming is the source code and source code is freely
available due to the section of the gpl quoted above. its hard to take
money for something which everyone can get for free.

i'm not an expert either but that's how i interpret the gpl.


Volker Sauer <vsauer at dvs1.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de> writes:

> Hello,
> I have a question about a german software which is distributed with
> GPL License:
> The software is called "tudo". It seems to be sort of an ERP
> (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. You'll find it at
> http://www.bemme.de
> The author of the software says at http://www.bemme.de/index1.php
> <citation>
> Konsequente Offenheit
> Tudo wird mit dem kompletten Quellcode ausgeliefert, der unter der GNU
> General Public Licence gestellt wurde. Das garantiert Ihnen einhundert
> Prozent Unabhängigkeit. Sie können jederzeit den Code einsehen,
> editieren und erweitern.
> <citation>
> I'll try to translate this to english:
> <translation>
> Consequently OpenSource:
> Tudo is distributed with complete sourcecode, which is licensed as
> GPL. This guarantees you 100% independence. You can always view, edit
> and upgrade the code.
> </translation>
> When you go the download section of http://www.bemme.de, you can only
> download version <= 1.20 with restricted features.
> On this page http://www.bemme.de/order.php you can *order* ths
> software and on this page, you find the prices:
> http://www.bemme.de/price.php.
> On the latter page, the authors tells us:
> <citation>
> Preise:
> Für das Programmpaket berechnen wir Euro 99,50. Darin enthalten ist
> das Programm Tudo mit Quellcode, Benutzerhandbuch und 30 Tage
> kostenlosen Email-Support mit Zugang zum Servicebereich dieser
> Homepage. Die Zahlung erfolgt per Vorkasse oder Nachnahme. Bei
> Vorkasse werden keine Versandkosten berechnet. Der Zugriff auf den
> Servicebereich ist auf unbegrenzte Zeit. Alle Updates sind zum freien
> Download verfügbar.
> Für das Programm und alle seine Komponenten (Betriebssystem,
> Datenbankgröße, etc.) fallen keine Lizenzgebühren an. Sie bezahlen
> lediglich die Dienstleistungen für Installation, Support und
> Programmierung.
> </citation>
> I'll try to translate:
> <translation>
> Prices:
> For the software-package we charge you EUR 99,50. It includes the
> software tudo including it's source, a manual and 30 days of
> charge-free e-mail-support with access to the servicesection of this
> homepage. The payment is done against prepayment or against
> cash-on-delivery. In case of prepayment the delivery itself will be
> free of charge. The access to the service-section will then be
> unrestricted forever. All future updates are free to download.
> For the software itself and all it's components (operatingsystem,
> databasesize etc.), there will be no royalties. You only pay for the
> service for installion, support and programming.
> </translation>
> I am no expert in juridical questions, so I'm sending my question the
> this list and hope to get an answer from someone more familiar with
> this matter.
> The question is: is this in accordance with GPL?
> The author of the software doesn't give the neither the software as
> binary nor the sourcecode away for free-charge, but says it's GPL!?
> The author says:
> 1) "Tudo is distributed with complete sourcecode, which is licensed as GPL."
> and
> 2) "You can always view, edit and upgrade the code."
> and
> 3) "For the software itself and all it's components (operatingsystem,
> databasesize etc.), there will be no royalties."
> but
> 4) "For the software-package we charge you EUR 99,50"
> and
> 5) "You only pay for the service for installion, support and programming."
> Despite that 3) and 5) are a contradiction in terms, I'm not quite
> sure, if this license the author distributes the software under is
> compliant with GPL, is it?
> Can anybody give a juridical evaluation!?
> Many thanks in advance!
> Regards
> Volker
> P.S.: I don't like closed source and I don't like violations of the
> GPL either, that why I ask.
> -- 
> 8<------------------------------------------------------------
> Databases and Distributed Systems Group
> Computer Science Department, Darmstadt University of Technology
> Wilhelminenstrasse 7, D-64283 Darmstadt, Germany
> Email: vsauer at dvs1.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de
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