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GPL

Hi folks,
I want to use the ActiveWidgets Grid on an internal project of my company, but I saw it is available under the GPL. My question is: Can I use ActiveWidgets on a proprietary (non-GPL) project ?

Thanks in advance,

Joshua
Joshua Peixoto
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
If you are going to use ActiveWidgets as part of a proprietary application you have to buy a commercial license. Please contact sales@activewidgets.com for details.
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
AFAIU, the GPL license is all about distributing, so internal company projects are ok with the gpl.

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#InternalDistribution
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLRequireSourcePostedPublic


AFAIU, the GPL works like this:

- Every one who receives the program has to be able to receive the source of the program through the same distributing channel at "distribution" cost (the cost of writing + mailing a cd for example) -

If a company "distributes" the program only within itself, it already has the source, so the GPL license is satisfied.

Alex, if you really want to disable proprietary/commercial use of ActiveWidgets you really need to change the license to one that -really- disables this use.
Carlos Costa e Silva
Thursday, April 22, 2004
The GPL FAQ clearly says:

"You cannot incorporate GPL-covered software in a proprietary system."

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLInProprietarySystem
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
Thursday, April 22, 2004
The argueable part of the GPL is that is refers to a release. This has been debated hotly, but if you have an ASP (application service provider) style application and you never release the code, you potentially you can use GPL source without it requiring a release of your source.

I am not a lawyer, so I would advise contacting a lawyer before you do this or just buying the commercial license as opposed to trying to cheat ActiveWidgets out of their hard work.
David
Thursday, April 22, 2004
They keyword here is "system" and by this I think they mean Operating System or a similar thing - not application/program/etc.

I repeat again: the GPL is all about distribution.

The applicable part of the license is point 2) and most specifically 2.b)

Quote from the gpl:

---
2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion of it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:

a) [...]

b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

c) [...]
---

Notice that the license says "work that you distribute or publish". And as it says in the gpl faq, the "all third parties" means the parties that receive the distributed/published work.

Within a company/organization, the "receiving" party is the organization itself, and it already has the source code.


Note that this results in several important points:

-> an organization may use/modify GPL software.
-> the resulting application/program is licensed as a GPL program.
-> the organization is NOT obligated to give the program to anyone: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#CanIDemandACopy.

-> if at any time the organization decides it wants to "sell" the program, THEN it has to distribute (make available) the source code along with the program. Needless to say, it won't sell many copies of the program as the sources will then be available for anyone to use.


My point is this: if you don't want ActiveWidgets used on a commercial/proprietary setting you should be license it under another license, not the GPL. You should contact someone you really trust (to know about licenses), a lawyer and/or the FSF to clear this point.
Carlos Costa e Silva
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Carlos,

I really appreciate what you say – this is important and complex matter that deserves proper attention. The problem with GPL is that the license text itself allows different interpretations. The GPL FAQ is just one of the possible interpretations of the license and the different parts of the FAQ contradict to each other. Many companies publish their own interpretations of the GPL as applied to their products and sometimes they say very different things. Therefore there is a trend to distinguish the formal interpretation of the GPL with the "informal" one.

The formal approach is very straightforward: "talk to your lawyer". It doesn’t make much sense to start the discussion if you are going to follow the formal path. You should follow the advise of your lawyer and it is the only thing that matters.

Another approach is simply to say that if you are unsure – buy the commercial license. This is my personal position and this is what I believe the original question was about.
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
Thursday, April 22, 2004



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