Rchard Stallman vs Darl McBride

Jon Jensen jon at endpoint.com
Tue Jul 20 20:34:27 MDT 2010

On Tue, 20 Jul 2010, Tod Hansmann wrote:

> You can't release part of a project under GPL, and if you do release it 
> under GPL, you give up the right to keep some of your code to yourself. 
> At least, I believe that's what he's saying.

There is nothing in the GPL that says you must distribute any code you 
write that is derivative of GPL'd code, if you don't distribute it.

If you distribute code derivative of GPL'd code, then it must be licensed 
under the GPL. But you don't have to distribute it.

For example, a company can make internal modifications to Linux and is 
under no obligation to distribute them or tell anyone anywhere about it. I 
believe internal copying within a company is not considered distribution 
under copyright law due to the idea of corporate personhood.

However, if they do distribute the code to others, whether in exchange for 
money or not, it must be licensed under the GPL to comply with the GPL 
license of the code they're building upon. Otherwise, they have no license 
to use that copyrighted original code.

One option that occasionally is used: You can get permission from the 
original copyright holder to use their code under another license than the 
GPL, maybe for free because they like you, or in exchange for money or 
other valuables.

This is all just a reflection of the fact that under current copyright 
law, all creative works are presumed copyrighted by their creator by 
default, and the only thing that makes it legal for another party to copy 
the copyrighted work (except for fair use etc.) is permission, whether 
through a stock license like the GPL, or personal permission.


Jon Jensen
End Point Corporation

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