juridical Question on software and GPL

Axel Schulz axel at schulz.ph
Fri Mar 26 20:03:38 UTC 2004

Hello at all!

I do think that this software does not violate the GPL. And: The "distributer" on http://www.bemme.de seems to be the original author of the software. So, he can do what ever he wants to do with his software, right? Even selling it. ;-)

As I understand the GPL it is allowed to sell the binary file of the software BUT on request the source code has to be provided for of charge.

And now I have an additional question to all of you: If Volker gets this source code he can modify, "keep the software as it is", and redistribute it as it is or modified. Right? He can do so with or without to charge a fee for the re-distribution (e.g. from his website). I think the GPL allows explicitly to charge for the redistribution. So, he would not violate the GPL if he would do so. Is this a correct interpretation of the GPL? 

I think this is the the real "mess" of the GPL. It is the economical/commercial effect (!!!). Why should people go on and get the software from http://www.bemme.de/ when they can download the same piece of software from any other website (e.g. Volkers ;-)). 

What would be important for Volker to notice is: The GPL would require him to publish the derived (or the same) version of the software again under the GPL (see: the broad discussed viral affect of the GPL ([1])).

I hope I am correct with my assumptions about GPL'ed software. I really hope so, because I argued in this way in my MA thesis ;-))

That's why only selling a GPL'ed software doesn't make (ECONOMICAL) sense. You have to sell services (like support etc.) in addition to really get money out of it. Or you have to publish the software under two licenses (like MySQL AB, Sweden [2]). But this is only efficient when you are going to build up giant enterprises where the "free riders" are a valuable part of your business model.

If the things I said above are "bullshit", please let me know. I am into ethics - nor law or computer science. ;-))


P.S.: Sorry, Volker, that I missused you here in my examples.
P.S.S.: There is always a BUT ;-))

General note: I got most of my arguments from http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#DoesTheGPLAllowMoney
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPL
[2] in the MySQL case: http://www.mysql.com/newsletter/2003-11/a0000000220.html


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