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Re: GPL and software I have written

On Wed, Nov 01, 2000 at 07:47:40AM -0800, Eric G . Miller wrote:
> You can't GPL it and charge for the *GPL* version.

The preceding statement is incorrect.  GPLed code can be sold for any
price you may choose to set.  The GPL _does_ say that a) you must provide
the source code (or at least make it available) and b) the recipient can
modify and/or distribute it as they see fit - including sale at any price
they choose - provided they also supply their modified source to anyone
they distribute executables to.  RMS (author of the GPL)has even explicitly
stated that he has no problem with people selling software (and the GPL makes
no attempt to prevent it), provided the buyer's freedom to modify and
distribute it remains intact.

GPLed code is typically given away free for the simple reason that if I
charge you for a piece of code and you then turn around and give it away for
free (or charge less for it), then people aren't likely to come to me for
that code - unless I offer something you don't (typically support services)
to go with it.  This can be seen in action with some people buying Red Hat/
Mandrake/Corel/etc. CDs to get the support (and/or convenience) that comes
with them, while other people download identical software for free off the
'net or borrow their friends' CDs.

> However, as you're
> the sole author, you could LICENSE the code for a fee and release old
> versions under GPL for free (which others could do whatever they want
> with except sell or re-license). Always put your Copyright on every code
> file.

This is also a popular model for people who want to make money off the sale
of (nominally) GPLed software.  The concept is that you pay a premium to get
access to the most up-to-date version.

In practice, however, people tend to submit patches/fixes/enhancements to
GPLed code which cannot (in general) be included in the non-GPL version.  If
you have any users doing so, it won't be long before the GPLed version is
superior to the proprietary version and, once again, your attempt to make
money by locking up the code will fail.

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