Redistribution constraint

John Cowan jcowan at
Thu Aug 19 11:46:48 UTC 2004

Andrea Chiarelli scripsit:

> The customer would get the source code and we would give it under an open
> source license that gives him the ability to copy, run, modify it but not
> redistribute for profit. We would avoid that the customer makes profit from
> redistributing the software. However we allow redistribution just for free.
> Here are my questions:
> - Is this redistribution constraint a problem for open source philosophy?

Yes, indeed.  It's been tried, but it seriously impedes the important
business of making distros -- packaging up existing open-source
software, putting it on CD-ROMs, and selling those.  These people are
making a profit for redistributing the software.  OTOH, they get the
software into lots of people's hands who wouldn't be likely to download
it for themselves, and that's important -- it increases the number of
people using the software and finding the bugs in it.

You can, of course, impose such a restrictive license, but you ought
not to call it Open Source.

> - Is there an already approved open source license that meets this
> requirement? (I have found none among the published ones)

There cannot be.  See point 1 of the Open Source Definition
at :

1. Free Redistribution

The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the
software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing
programs from several different sources. The license shall not require
a royalty or other fee for such sale.

Samuel Johnson on playing the violin:           John Cowan
"Difficult do you call it, Sir?                 jcowan at
 I wish it were impossible."          

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