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Re: GPL and inhouse use?

From: Byron A Jeff
Subject: Re: GPL and inhouse use?
Date: 18 May 2006 13:35:42 -0400

In article <>,
Eric  <> wrote:
>Merijn de Weerd wrote:
>> On 2006-05-14, Eric <> wrote:


>so its basically "if i modify any gpl'd code I must give away my changes
>whether or not i keep it 'in-house' "?

No. If it's in-house, you do not have to distribute the source.

>Wow, if i have that right, then thats about the very best way i know of to
>prevent any company from using a kernel as a base for their own proprietary

That's true if you distribute the modified code.

> Its like saying: Here's a hammer and some nails, do what you want
>with it, but if you build a house you have to build one for your neighbor

I think a better analogy is: Here's a free house for you to use. If you improve
upon the design of the house, anyone you sell another house too also gets the
designs with your improvements.

> In your example, you left out that your competitor who makes the same
>embedded product, just took your 2 years of development efforts and got
>them for free while you spent all the up front costs in programmers,

Simple solution: start your code from scratch. Then it's yours to do what
you see fit.

People have the mistaken impression that GPL software has no quid pro quo
component. It does. The objective is to keep the code and any distributed 
modifications to that code free for everyone to use. You get it for free.
Free of cost, free to use, free to change, free to distribute, even free
for you to sell. The only freedom that is restricted is the freedom to make 
it non free (in the above senses) to those you to whom you distribute. 

It's up for your company to decide if the savings in time to market due to
the efforts of the existing GPL base is worth the cost of having to share
any modifications that you contribute. If your folks put in 2 years on a
base that would have taken 5 years to develop, then it isn't so easy a
choice, is it?

>computers, etc to develop it no thanks to him and now you have to just give
>it to him? No Way! how is that a good idea?

Yes. That's how it works. That's the cost of using GPL software. And for 
businesses whose purpose is to make profit by being scarce with their 
modifications to GPL software, it doesn't work. You have to find another
model such as writing from scratch, purchasing a proprietary codebase from
another vendor, or by using code with a less restrctive license.

This is the cost associated with using GPL software.

> If thats really the way it is,
>then a company would be far smarter to pay a license fee up front and own
>the base code.

BINGO! That's exactly what they should do. That way they are paying to
remain proprietary.

Now it's also possible to pay the GPL author for a proprietary license.
In that case there may still be conditions attached, such as modifications
may have to be GPLed in a year or 18 months after product release.


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