Subscription/Service Fees - OSD Intent

David Johnson david at
Thu Mar 29 19:46:18 UTC 2001

Replying to several posts, sorry if this is confusing:

Phil Hunt wrote:
> Or does #7 only apply to usage *other than* copying? If so, does this mean
> that if someone illegally encapsulates my GPL'd code then they can still
> legally run my program?

As I understand it, the GPL does not restrict the private usage of the 
software in any way. You do all sorts of mean and nasty stuff to GPLd in the 
privacy of your own home. You just can't distribute it in some cases.

Phil Hunt wrote:
> What about software that require registration (e.g. by email), but not
> a registration *fee*? Can that be Open Source?

I don't believe it would be Open Source. Fees are not required to execute an 
additional license.

Lou Grinzo wrote:
> As an editor an writer in the Linux field for some time, I'm dismayed by all
> the e-mail I've received from people asking how to interpret licenses.  Many
> of these people are new to the concept of free/open source licensing, but a
> sizable percentage aren't, and they've traditionally used the GPL and simply
> "thrown code out there" without really understanding what they're doing. 

I've seen several cases of gross license misunderstanding. In a recent case, 
I saw on a FAQ the following (paraphrased): "This software was originally 
released under the BSD license. But since it now uses the Qt license, which 
is dual licensed as GPL/QPL, I must either one of those licenses. I have 
chosen the GPL."

The FSF has a nice page explaining some licenses. Unfortunately it is rather 
biased towards copyleft and GPL compatibility. I would definitely like to see 
a similar page written from a more license-neutral stance.

Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
> The main problem I've seen people have with the GPL is that it does
> not define what a derivative work is.  However, RMS feels that that is
> unavoidable, because the GPL is not a shrink wrap license.  It is a
> description of rights permitted under copyright law.  Because of that,
> the GPL can only apply to programs which are derivative works under
> copyright law.  And copyright law on software is completely unclear.

Unfortunately, "derivative work" is not too well defined for software under 
copyright law either. Other confusing spots in the GPL are the operating 
system component , and module clauses. What are the extents of an operating 
system? And what is a module?

David Johnson

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