selling GPL sources

Ian Lance Taylor ian at
Tue Sep 20 04:01:26 UTC 2005

"Guilherme C. Hazan" <guich at> writes:

> >>> I'm aware of a program that uses the GPL license and the author made
> >>> the binaries free but not the sources. He asks a fee for the sources
> >>> (about 100usd).
> >>>
> >>> Is this legal or is he infringing the GPL license?
> >> The GPL permits "a charge no more than your cost of physically
> >> performing source distribution."  If his cost is 100USD or greater,
> >> than he is not infringing.  If his cost is less than 100USD, then he
> >> is infringing.
> > The original poster said this person was the "author" of the
> > program. If
> > he in fact owns all copyright, then he can do whatever weird distribution
> > scheme he wants, yes? Other people, if they happen to somehow receive a
> > copy licensed under the GPL, would then need to follow the GPL if they
> > wanted to distribute it (or derivative works) further.
> This makes sense. But suppose the author just want to use GPL, not a
> weird license. Or lets suppose that someone else but the author gets
> the GPLd software and asks for a fee of the sources. Without any other
> assumptions (such as this doesnt make sense bc others can give the
> source for free), will this be illegal?

If you want a real answer, I think you will need to describe the
situation in more depth.  You can't just ignore the other assumptions,
because they matter.

If there is software distributed under the GPL,
and Alice gets a legal copy of that software,
and Alice is not the sole author,
and Alice distributes the binaries without sources,
then Alice is distributing under GPL clause 3(b),
implying that Alice is required to distribute sources to any third
  party upon request,
and it costs Alice $10 to make a copy of the sources,
then Alice may charge up $10 for a copy of the sources,
but not more than $10.

If you want an answer for a different situation, then please describe
that situation.


More information about the License-discuss mailing list