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Re: One unclear point in the Vim license

Steve Langasek wrote:

> On Tue, Jan 01, 2002 at 11:27:46PM +0100, Bram Moolenaar wrote:
> > > It also does not require that I send the changes to the maintainer.
> > > That's the sticking point.
> > The GPL requires you to make the source code available to every user.
> > That's quite bit stickier, in my opinion.  For most companies that means
> > they can't make money on their software.  That's the main disadvantage of
> > using the GPL and the main reason commercial software companies don't
> > like the GPL.  I always run into this problem when writing software
> > which isn't supposed to be published.  You can't use any parts of GPL
> > software then.
> This seems to be an echo of a common misconception about the GPL.  You 
> are allowed to use GPL code in any manner that you see fit if you don't 
> distribute (publish) the result; and you are never obliged by the GPL to 
> distribute derived works to anyone, except that if you distribute 
> derived binaries to someone you must also provide that person with the 
> source code upon request.

Companies that try to make money from software very often distribute
their software.  How else would they make money?  Thus mostly they run
into this rule of the GPL.  The only situation it doesn't cause trouble
is for using software that is used inside the company and doesn't go to

I have been making software for printers and copying machines.  The
software inside it is mostly hidden for the user.  Still, when someone
buys such a machine he gets the software as well.  I suppose that, if
the GPL applies to the embedded software, this still requires the
company to make the source code available to the customer.  Then a
competetor would just have to buy a machine and discover all our
tricks...  The company doesn't want that, because keeping secrets is the
best way to stay ahead of the competition.  Thus as a result I was not
allowed to use any GPL'ed software in these machines.  That's the
problem many companies run into.  Only a few can afford to publish their
source code (e.g., when you make the money on hardware you can give away
the software for free).

Note that I do like to have source code available for everything.  And I
would gladly publish every software I have ever written.  But I have to
make a living, and unfortunately that conflicts quite often.

Ten million Linux users can't be wrong!

 ///  Bram Moolenaar -- Bram@moolenaar.net -- http://www.moolenaar.net  \\\
(((   Creator of Vim -- http://vim.sf.net -- ftp://ftp.vim.org/pub/vim   )))
 \\\  Help me helping AIDS orphans in Uganda - http://iccf-holland.org  ///

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