making money off your GPL-ed code

Seth David Schoen schoen at
Wed May 19 17:08:45 UTC 1999

Clark Evans writes:

> Bruce Perens wrote:
> > 
> > You can apply a proprietary license and the GPL to the work at the
> > same time, and distribute them to different customers. If you create 
> > a new version under a proprietary license only, the GPL recepients 
> > have no right to that version.
> Yikes!  Discriminatory pricing followed by a bait-and-switch.
> > It is _only_ in the case where you are distributing the work of _other_people_
> > that you must heed the GPL on the code. You can do anything you want with
> > software for which you own the copyright, except for one thing: if a GPL
> > recepient aswks for source, you must give them source for the _version_they_
> > _have_.
> I feel that if anyone is trying to make money from
> software that is GPL'd, then they obviously do not
> believe in the GPL, thus they really should not be 
> using the GPL.

I think you should amend this to "to make money from applying a proprietary
license to software that is GPL'd".  I've made money from software that
was GPL'd -- just not by trying to put it under a proprietary license.
With that addition, it's still imaginable that someone believes in the
practical benefits of the GPL, but not in the activist program it
implements.  And so I'm not sure about this point:

> Personally, I think that practices
> that have a "basic" version GPL'd, but the "advanced"
> version proprietary are worse for open source than
> if you just stayed 100% proprietary.  

While this does have a "bait and switch" feel to it, it's really only a
major problem if the original developer is the _only_ person capable of
maintaining the package or adding those features.  Otherwise, you have
some nice new GPL code that you can use for whatever purposes you like,
including purposes unrelated to the original package.

And someone else can come along and implement the "advanced" features
anew under the GPL.  While this is a duplication of effort, the
possibility is still present.

Some of your other points provide other circumstances where the release
of software under multiple licenses is problematic, but it would
probably be more trouble than it's worth for the GPL to try to preclude
people from releasing their code under any other license.

[Distributed Copyright stuff snipped; I'll try to look at the web page

                    Seth David Schoen <schoen at>
      They said look at the light we're giving you,  /  And the darkness
      that we're saving you from.   -- Dar Williams, "The Great Unknown"  (personal)  (CAF)

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