[AcademicEdge] [Advanced Distributed Learning] [Contact Us]  [Open Source Info]

General Public License FAQ
Academic Edge

Financial Aid

System Req's
 Download Info
Technical Info

For Online Demonstration, visit: OnCollege.net

  General Public License -- FAQ  

1. Why Open Source Software/Free Software (OSS/FS)? Look at the numbers!

some excerpts from above article...

"OSS/FS costs less to initially acquire..."

"Upgrade/maintenance costs are typically far less..."

"OSS/FS does not impose license management costs and avoids nearly all licensing litigation risks..."

"OSS/FS can often use older hardware more efficiently than proprietary systems, yielding smaller hardware costs and sometimes eliminating the need for new hardware..."

"OSS/FS has greater flexibility..."

"There is ample evidence that OSS/FS encourages, not quashes, innovation..."

"...One interesting case is the “General Public License” (GPL), the most common OSS/FS license. Software covered by the GPL can be modified, but any release of that modified software must include an offer for the source code under the same GPL license. Basically, the GPL creates a consortium; anyone can use the program, but you can’t change the program or use its code in another program and make the results proprietary. Since the GPL is a legal document, it can be hard for some to understand. Here is one less legal summary (posted on Slashdot):

  • This software contains the intellectual property of several people. Intellectual property is a valuable resource, and you cannot expect to be able to use someone else’s intellectual property in your own work for free. Many businesses and individuals are willing to trade their intellectual property in exchange for something of value; usually money. For example, in return for a sum of money, you might be granted the right to incorporate code from someone’s software program into your own.

"...It’s true that organizations that modify and release GPL’ed software must yield any patent and copyright rights for those additions they release, but such organizations do so voluntarily (no one can force anyone to modify GPL code) and with full knowledge (all GPL’ed software comes with a license clearly stating this). And such grants only apply to those modifications; organizations can hold other unrelated rights if they wish to do so, or develop their own software instead. Since organizations can’t make such changes at all to proprietary software in most circumstances, and generally can’t redistribute changes in the few cases where they can make changes, this is a fair exchange, and organizations get far more rights with the GPL than with proprietary licenses (including the “shared source” license). If organizations don’t like the GPL license, they can always create their own code, which was the only option even before GPL’ed code became available."

"...if you want services besides the software itself (such as guaranteed support, training, and so on), you must pay for those things just like you would for proprietary software. If you want to affect the future direction of the software - especially if you must have the software changed in some way to fit it to your needs - then you must invest to create those specific modifications. Typically these investments involve hiring someone to make those changes, possibly sharing the cost with others who also need the change. Note that you only need to pay to change the software - you don’t need to pay for permission to use the software, or a per-copy fee, only the actual cost of the changes."





Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.