distributing GPL libreries
scott.shattuck at gmail.com
Tue Jul 15 20:40:01 UTC 2008
The question of what constitutes "other parties" is likely to vary not
only from state to state but from country to country etc.
Nevertheless, at least up through GPL 2 the FSF's stance, from their
own FAQ, was:
Does the GPL require that source code of modified versions be posted
to the public?
The GPL does not require you to release your modified version. You are
free to make modifications and use them privately, without ever
releasing them. This applies to organizations (including companies),
too; an organization can make a modified version and use it internally
without ever releasing it outside the organization.
But if you release the modified version to the public in some way, the
GPL requires you to make the modified source code available to the
program's users, under the GPL.
Thus, the GPL gives permission to release the modified program in
certain ways, and not in other ways; but the decision of whether to
release it is up to you.
What's an "organization"? Well, that's also open for interpretation.
And the fact they specifically call out companies as being included in
that definition implies that the FSF recognizes other types of
organizations (which aren't specifically delineated). Further comments
speak specifically to contractual work:
Does the GPL allow me to develop a modified version under a
Yes. For instance, you can accept a contract to develop changes and
agree not to release your changes until the client says ok. This is
permitted because in this case no GPL-covered code is being
distributed under an NDA.
You can also release your changes to the client under the GPL, but
agree not to release them to anyone else unless the client says ok. In
this case, too, no GPL-covered code is being distributed under an NDA,
or under any additional restrictions.
The GPL would give the client the right to redistribute your version.
In this scenario, the client will probably choose not to exercise that
right, but does have the right.
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