does a free license make software free?

Albert Dengg albert at
Mon Oct 15 01:02:05 UTC 2007

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On Mon, Oct 15, 2007 at 12:15:48AM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> Albert Dengg <albert at> wrote:
> > On Fri, Sep 14, 2007 at 12:08:57AM +0200, chrysn wrote:
> > > if you write a program on your own, you can distribute it under any 
> > > license without any obligations firing back to you; these first take 
> > > effect when you use foreign code. i think it is a general 
> > > misunderstanding about free licenses.
> > 
> > well, i think you are only partly right here: if you give somebody
> > something under the gpl specifically, you give the person certain
> > rights, among them (to put it simple) to get "the code" and so on. even
> > if you are the original author/copyright holder you would be forced to
> > fullfill the obligations [...]
> If it's 100% yours, who could force you to fulfil the obligations?
> There is no other licensor who can punish you for not fulfilling the
> license.  Maybe if you sold the act of GPL'ing the software (is this
> possible?), the payer could punish you, but I don't think a licensee
> can without completing some other agreement with you.
the license gives rights to your customer that can be fought for in
court (this has already happend for the gpl)...and as the customer has
gotten your software under the gpl from you you are obliged to fullfill
its terms (as is your customer)... of course the clause about loosing
rights under the gpl will not apply since you as the copyright owner
would still hold your rights...

lets put it that way: your recieve a binary of some sort acompanied with
a licence statement that this software is licenced under the gpl and so
on (we now the text) and maybe a similar note in the about box.
the licence clearly grants the right to ask for the source code (to put
it simple) and also grants you the rights that we all now.

so why should the original author not be forced to hold to that license
(for this copy of course, all other copies could be under completly
different licenses). he after all granted them.

i think thought that a situation where a author publishes something
under the gpl without meaning to distribute the source to his/her
client(s) is extremly unlikly as the "you have to distribute the source"
part of the gpl is quite well known....

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