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The worst that can happen to GPLed code

From: Chris Jefferson
Subject: The worst that can happen to GPLed code
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 17:42:47 -0000
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 0.6 (Windows/20040502)

First of all, let me say Hello!

Also, let me point out that (I hope) I'm not a troll. I've just been working on a project with some friends and we are now considering what licence to release it under. I'd quite like the GPL, but a number of my friends would perfer a "you can read the code, but you can't distribute altered versions" style licence.

The reason for this is that they believe that really bad things can happen to GPLed code. Therefore I was hoping someone could tell me, what is the worst someone can do?

Some example thoughts we had..

1) Someone could just take our source, remove all copyright notices from both the source and displayed when the app is run and put their own on

2) Someone could take our source, make minor alterations to it, and then redistribute it without admiting they'd changed it and leaving our copyright notices intact (both in source and in the help/about box), making it look like we wrote the evil version.

Now, we realise that evil people could always just ignore the GPL, that isn't a fault of the GPL. But are these two things possible?

Also, I notice that we must distribute the source in a version such that it can be compiled by the user. Does this mean:

1) We have to distribute (if asked of course) a copy of the source of all libraries, even if they are publicly available (but not installed by default)

2) We can't write code that depends on as it's compiler (say, not that we have any yet), as people wouldn't then be able to compile it themselves without buying

Thank you for your help, sorry if I'm asking FAQs, and please try not to start a flame war ;)


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