Selling the GPL inside your company

David Gerard dgerard at
Mon Aug 9 21:53:48 UTC 2010

... or free software issues in particular. The question was triggered
by someone whose management is scared silly of the GPL, for whatever
spurious reasons. My answers assume that legal and technical facts
won't work without answering the subjective business-sense issues

What sort of things have you had to do to get reluctant management to
let you contribute patches back to free software?

- d.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Gerard <dgerard at>
Date: 9 August 2010 22:50
Subject: Re: [ORG-discuss] GPL Advice
To: Open Rights Group open discussion list
<org-discuss at>

On 9 August 2010 21:12, Will Hall <org at> wrote:

> Whilst the spirit of GPL/copy[right|left|fight] issues is clear (ish),
> the intricacies are not, and I would very much appreciate some help with
> my basic understanding.

I replied from my experience, and (despite being somewhat off topic
for ORG) it may be of benefit to others here in a similar boat .

In my experience, you need to point out the business advantage: we got
a bunch of our build process working *far* better by contributing a
fix we needed to the build software, and one of our staff, who is
actually a medical doctor, has found himself a significant contributor
to a GPL project!

That is: focus on the carrot, to the point they consider it attractive
enough to see problems as things to work around. And GPL compliance is
ridiculously easy *once you have* management buyin.

The "competitive advantage" is "free vendor assistance, they like us
so will tend to help us." They might respond to that.

It can also be good marketing and public relations. Get the marketers
interested, that'll swing it ;-)

[I might forward this to FSFE for ideas too.]

- d.

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