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RE: Is CVS free for commercial development?

From: Peter Ring
Subject: RE: Is CVS free for commercial development?
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001 01:26:40 +0200

Using cvs comes with no strings attached, except that you can only
redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public
License (GPL) as published by the Free Software Foundation. That is, if you
redistribute derivative work, you must release the derivative work under the
terms of the GPL as well, implying among other things that you must make the
source code available. This is why GPL is called a 'viral license'. See GPL
version 2 at

IMHO, the GPL has little effect for corporate deployment of cvs. You can
safely use the distributed binaries and source 'as is' for any purpose you
see fit. Any adaptions or customization is likely to be implemented as
scripts that are not 'infected' by the GPL. And the projects in which you
use cvs are are no legal way affected by the GPL because of your *use* of

You can also develop and deploy *derivative work*, e.g., yet another
authentification scheme or cvs client, but only inside your corporation. You
can only distribute derivative work outside your corporation if you make the
source available under the terms of the GPL. If in doubt, ask a lawyer.

In any case, corporate users are also welcome to contribute patches,
scripts, user guides, constructive criticism etc.

Kind regards
Peter Ring

PS: I wonder whether a cvs client could be developed in a fashion that would
make it not subject to the terms of GPL? This might be useful for
interfacing non-GPL (BSD-style absolutely-no-strings-attached or more
proprietary) software to cvs repositories.

PPS: If you have an evening to spare for interesting reading, search for
'viral license'. You might also want to study a bewildering variety of 'open
source' licenses:

PPPS: Micosoft doesn't like GPL, see
g=ltnc and You
don't have to be pro-Microsoft in order to see some issues with GPL, see

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