[thelist] GNU / GPL

kasimir-k kasimir.k.lists at gmail.com
Thu Oct 25 15:30:46 CDT 2007

Phil Turmel scribeva in 24/10/2007 12:25:
> Note that you cannot charge for GPL software, other than copying costs.

This is not true. From <http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html> :

"Many people believe that the spirit of the GNU project is that you 
should not charge money for distributing copies of software, or that you 
should charge as little as possible — just enough to cover the cost.

Actually we encourage people who redistribute free software to charge as 
much as they wish or can."

Stephen Rider scribeva in 24/10/2007 23:09:
> The requirement that you release the source code makes commercial  
> software effectively free, as anyone with a bit of know-how can take  
> your source and compile it as the full program.  Am I mistaken in  
> this?  Please do correct me if I'm wrong -- this topic _does_  
> interest me.

Lets assume I have a client who runs, say, a pet shop. They know 
everything about pets and how to take care of them, but know computers 
just enough to use them. Then I create a program for them to manage 
their pet sales, and it gives them an advantage over other pet shops. 
And I license that program under GPL.

When I sell the program to them (for good money :-) I must also provide 
them with the source code - but only them, nobody else. The pet shop 
then could, if they wanted, release the program and its source in 
public. But I doubt they would want to do it, as then every other pet 
shop would get the advantage for no money, while my client had to pay 
for it.

Also, doing anything with the source code would require my client to 
hire a programmer, as they don't know them selves anything about 
programming. If I'm good to my client, they'll hire me.

So in short: yes, it is possible to make a revenue selling GPL software.

Having that said, if you were planning to sell the program to general 
public, then this business model is not so viable, as in general public 
there are also programmers, who know what to do with the source, and 
could distribute the program for lower price (or for free).

I hope this made it more clear (and that I wasn't grossly mistaken - 
after all IANAL either :-)


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