"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
"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
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