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InfoWorld: Don't Fear the GPL

Aug 30, 2002, 14:30 (21 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Russell Pavlicek)

[ Thanks to Jason Greenwood for this link. ]

"A few software companies (I'll let you guess which one heads the list) have spent a considerable amount of time recently trying to convince folks that the GNU GPL (General Public License) is evil. Well, it's not. In fact, the GPL is perhaps the most empowering license that an end-user of software could ever receive.

"Why? Because the GPL ensures that the software user has full access to the source code. It also grants you permission to modify the software as you see fit, as well as permission to redistribute both the original software and your modifications. That's a lot of power for an end-user.

"But what if your organization wants to modify a piece of GPL software to add some logic that you want to keep secret? Does the GPL demand that you spill trade secrets to competitors just to modify the software? Not at all -- as long as you don't redistribute the software. If you are keeping the modifications for use in-house, you can do anything you'd like to the source code. But if you decide to start distributing the software, you will need to include your modified source code with it. Because most end-user companies don't want to enter the software business, this is a non-problem..."

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