B Galliart bgallia at
Sat Sep 4 20:54:53 UTC 2010

On Sat, Sep 4, 2010 at 8:57 AM, Helge Reikeras <helge.reikeras at> wrote:
> Hi
> I'm considering using ARToolKit for a project I'm working on. See
> The disclaimer reads
> ARToolKit is made available freely for non-commercial use under the
> GNU General Public License.

This disclaimer would make it incompatible with GPL.  This does not
seem to be by accident since the project's documentation web page[1]
also states "GPL License (non commercial usage)"

The modified license condition means that it is not Free Software
since it violates Freedom 0:
"The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0)."[2]

The modified license condition means that it does not follow the Open
Source Definition[3]:
"6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor"

As such, the U of Washington project (which is hosted on SourceForge)
is probably violating the SourceForge terms of service:
"any Code submitted to must be licensed to Geeknet and
other licensees under a license that is:
compliant with the Open Source Initiative ("OSI")'s Open Source
Definition (
or certified as an "OSI-Approved License" ("

Phillip Lamb's SourceForge project summary is misleading:
"Dual-licensed, under the GPL, plus commercially by ARToolworks, Inc."[4]

Under a true dual-license, a commercial distributor decides for
themselves if the GPL is suitable for their purpose.  Instead, this
project removes the choice and declares "for whom the GPL is not
suitable."  It also states the commercial license clause on those "who
require customization or other specialist modifictions."  Under a true
GPLv2 or GPLv3 project, it is permitted to have a third-party
consultant make modification to a project.  Based on the wording
provided, it sounds like even non-commercial redistribution of payed
modifications would not be permitted under their modification to the
terms of the GPL.

A true GPL author makes money by being the best resource/service for
the project.  The only thing keeping them from having to compete on
equal footing with other services is initially being the most familiar
with the project/code.

How read the license modification is that ARToolworks, Inc. requires
royalties be provided whenever money changes hands related to their
code.  I take that to mean that ARToolworks, Inc. feels they can't
compete on the merits of their own services and they also feel that it
would not make money if the project was under true GPL terms.  If they
are 100% copyright holder of the code, then it is their right to make
such a demand.  However, in doing so, it is disingenuous to claim it
is available under the GPL.  It is really under "GPL with exception
requiring non-commercial use" which fails to follow either the letter
or the spirit of Free Software.

U of Washington has a history of posting code that appears to be open
source but actually is not.[5]

Given it is unlikely that the authors of ARToolKit have any intention
of actually making their project open source, I would recommend they
remove it from SourceForge.

Microsoft's Codeplex is known for hosting projects that violate the
Open Source Definition including Microsoft's own Singularity RDK
project[6]. ARToolKit should feel right at home there instead.

Or in the off chance they actually decide it really is supposed to be
available under the GPLv2 or GPLv3 then it looks like it could be an
useful contribution to the Free Software community.


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