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Thread: GPL question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004

    GPL question

    Hi there,

    I have a question about the GPL licence concerning the Java written software.

    I have the following situation:

    I wrote a software pakaged in jar, war, and etc files that use GPL licensed third party libraries. I want to sell my software - my peace only and of course I have to bundle it with the GPL-ed software in order to make it work on the client machine.

    In order to let the customer use newer versions of the free software he does not need my sources.

    My questin is:

    Can I sell the product that uses GPLed third party packages without selling or providing the source code?
    Do I breake the GPL license ?
    What about Lesser GPL - can it somehow limit me to sell the product?

    I already read some parts of the GPL and LGPL but I am confused a bit.

    Thanks in advance !

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    IIRC, if your code does anything with code that is GPL'd your code is pretty much considered under the GPL and you are legally bound to give up the source if they ask for it. LGPL won't really hinder you as long as you provide the code for the libraries under the LGPL. If you modify those libraries, then you have to be prepared to provide the code of the modified libraries.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2004

    My investigation so far found that If my code does not modify a GPL-ed library it si free from the GPL license.
    But if my code wraps somehow or modifies classes that are part of a GPL package then I have to provide only the source code of that modification.

    For example if I use JBoss to deploy my ears I do not have to provide my source but if I modify the JBoss security manager for example I have to provide my modification code only.
    When we are talking about the source code of the used libraries that fall under GPL licence I am obliged to provide the libraries, the licence agreement and the source code if requested. This has nothing to do with the source code of my applciation and I intend to provide the sources always and thus to skip any GPL problems.

    This is what I have so far. If I am wrong please correct me - I'd be thankful!

    Thanks in advance... the lawyers stuff sounds a bit strange to me but... that is life.

    Here in Bulgaria we use to say: ask the expireinced, not the old one.

    Thanks again,

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    taken from wikipedia

    "GPL-related disputes

    A key dispute related to the GPL is whether or not non-GPL software can dynamically link to GPL libraries. The GPL is clear in requiring that all derivative works of GPLed code must themselves be GPLed. However, it is not clear whether an executable that dynamically links to a GPL library should be considered a derivative work. The free/open-source software community is split on this issue, with the FSF asserting that such an executable is indeed a derivative work, and other experts disagreeing. This is ultimately a question not of the GPL per se, but of how copyright law defines derivative works. In Galoob v. Nintendo the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals defined a derivative work as having "'form' or permanence" and noted that "the infringing work must incorporate a portion of the copyrighted work in some form," but there have been no clear court decisions to resolve this particular conflict.

    Unfortunately, many developers believe this is a technical question. It is not. The question is entirely a legal issue is the linking work legally a derivative work?

    A number of businesses use dual-licensing to distribute a GPL version and sell a proprietary license to companies wishing to combine the package with proprietary code, using dynamically linking or not. Examples of such companies include MySQL AB, Trolltech (Qt toolkit), Namesys (ReiserFS) and Red Hat (Cygwin). Since there is no record of anyone circumventing the GPL by dynamic linking and contesting when threatened with lawsuits by the copyright holder, the restriction is apparently de facto enforceable even if not currently de jure.

    Essentially, if you dynamically link to GPL (not LGPL) code, as you are suggesting, you run a reasonable risk of getting sued. This isn't to say that you might pass underneath the radar if you are sufficiently small...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2004

    What you just said was what I thought in the begging of my investigation.
    May be I missed some details while reading about GPL and LGPL.
    My be can not clearly differentiate betwon LGPL and GPL.

    So I started to think that whith LGPLed software there is no option for leagal issues but with pure GPL I have to hope that I will stay beneath the radar.

    My idea is not to play games with the law but to use my creativity to work and gain money. I do not have a problem to open my sources but the problem is that this will make the useless for me as no body would pay for something that is open.

    Do you have any idea where I can find info about how one can nmake money with open source software development.

    I my self can not imagine how could a small company - 3-10 emploees to make money with open source projects - no matter how complex they are.

    That is whay I wanted to use open source libraries like Hibernate or Jasper, typestry and etc... hoping the GPL or LGPL will allow me to use them with no pay... of course some donation will be available.... in the context of a small and starting company paying a lot of money is a ****.

    Any ideas beacuse I am getting more confused and discouraged to start my own busiines... or I have to start like Bill Gates... some other people that do not say a thing about their first million...

    Help! Help! ))))

    If you do not mind to share with me such a valuable info.

    May be my question is not intended for this thread ?!?
    Where else I may talk to somebody about this things ?

    Thanks anyway !

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Just because something is GPL'd doesn't mean you can't sell it. One way of profiting from open source is to sell it like a service. Alternatively you could charge alot more per copy of the software. Most people aren't looking to compete with you, and you could be careful who you distributed to. If you sell a company a GPL'd piece of software, they would have the benefit of being able to do what they wanted with the software. Chances are they don't have someone as knowlegable as you about your software, and if they want something customized, they can pay you to make changes. Quake 1 to 3 were released under the GPL after being out for a while. I'm fairly certain that the trademarks and copyrighted graphics are not effected at all by the GPL - hense making distributing those parts illegal. Someone could of course their own mod of your game, but for the most part the art is still your own...
    To be quite honest though, if you are small you could probably distribute your entire program under the GPL, and noone would notice. You could probably put the source in a zipped file with the extension name changed, so if they ask for it you can give them clear and easy instructions on how to get the source (and furthermore emphasize that you only offer service and warranty on the distributions you sold them) ... But how many software liscence agreements have you read?

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