selling GPL sources

Brian C brianwc at
Tue Sep 20 16:02:53 UTC 2005

Hi Guilherme,

Guilherme C. Hazan wrote:

> Well, both statements are true. I would like to distribute the binaries
> for free, and part of the sources (the vm part) for a fee. This happens
> because we're releasing a new version that will have an advertisement
> saying "this GPL version does not allow closed-source development" in
> our GPL distribution (we have both LGPL for people that pay and GPL for
> community users).

I would suggest rewording that splash screen. It suggests that "this"
GPL version does not allow closed-source development, when the truth is
that EVERY GPL version of the software does not allow closed-source
development (if distributed). I think what you intend to do is
distinguish it from your LGPL version, so perhaps you want a splash that

"This version of the software is licensed under the GPL and hence you
may not distribute closed-source derivatives. The software is also
available under the LGPL license. See [our website] for details."

> But, if we release the sources for everyone, as we
> currently do, then people could just recompile the vm without the
> splash. (i'm completely aware that someone could buy and do it, but this
> makes things more dificult)

I think you're worrying too much, but in the case imagined, you can
resolve most issues by keeping good records of who pays for the LGPL
version. If someone ELSE starts distributing proprietary software that
you suspect is built upon your GPL version, then you go after them.

> So, we would like to charge something for people to download the
> sources. 

You are guaranteed the ability to do this (with certain provisos), but
keep in mind that the very first person who pays is also guaranteed the
ability to redistribute those sources for free on their site. So this is
a bit of a pointless exercise for you to engage in.

> Also, this distribution cost is somewhat strange. If the distribution is
> the internet, is it right to charge 100usd for it?

Probably not. It'd be hard to demonstrate that this was one's actual cost.

> regards
>     guich


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