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GNU License case study #2

Posted on 2003-10-30
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I modified the kernel and then sold the modified kernel.

To one person -  Do I need a license?

To 1000 people - Do I need a/many licences?

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Question by:rfr1tz
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by:jlevie
ID: 9654229
Modified in what way? A change in the code or a change in the configuration? Are you maiking the changes available in source form?
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by:paullamhkg
ID: 9654955
I think will be the same case of your #1 here http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/Linux/Q_20783458.html once you fall into the GPL you have to release your source code for public.
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Gns earned 150 total points
ID: 9657045
For this you'd definitely need provide the source code "free of charge" in one of the forms specified in the applicable license. Making customers pay you for the kernel changes isn't prohibited in any way though!-)
And having an "administrative fee" for repeating the work (applying the same patch) for several other customers wouldn't be prohibited either, since you wouldn't charge for the product (the kernel change), but rather for your time/support.
Also look at the licenses of the 3rd party kernel modules usually provided by some HW vendors... Intel NICs etc...

-- Glenn
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by:pjedmond
pjedmond earned 100 total points
ID: 9670067
If your code is part of the kernel code, rather than a stand alone module, then you come under the GPL and you have to provide source code free of charge, and cannot charge for the code itself...HOWEVER, you can charge a consultancy fee for implementing the modification for a customer, and you could also charge a fee for say 'duplicating and delivering a solution' to the customer.

If the code is a seperate module that is 'seperate' and includes no GPL code, then it can come under a licence similar to the 3rd party kernel modules already referred to.

The above applies regardless if the distribution is 1 or 1million units.

Also note that some companies (makers of mySQL) provide the option of buying a commercial licence which would release you from the constraints of the GPL for their bit of the code, and enable you to charge for software that includes this code. This option is not available for the Linux Kernel though.

HTH:)
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by:Gns
ID: 9670098
Wasn't this what I said pjedmond?
... Well, perhaps yopu said it in a more intelligible way:-). Thanks for that.

-- Glenn
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by:pjedmond
ID: 9671261
Well - if you understand what the score is, yes I am duplicating what you said..but take the phrase:

'Making customers pay you for the kernel changes isn't prohibited in any way though'

Can be miscontrued as actually paying for the code, rather than the process of carrying out the change (as a administrative process). Yes -  no doubt some of my answer can be misconstued as well, but until you actually understand the GPL and it's variants, it's very easy to 'misunderstand'...basically because the concept is so different to the 'normal' everyday way of life. The concept of someone making something/providing something, and not having to pay is extremely wierd to some managers - and as a result, it's extremely easy to write something, which may make perfect sense to the individual who wrote it, but be completely misunderstood by anyone else.

As a result, I tried to clarify your comments and put them into context. (nope - I'm not a lawyer/legal specialist, and I'm sure that there ar peopl out there that can clarify these comments even further..then again...I've found that exposing this type of thing to legal specialists can also create added confusion;)!)
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by:Gns
ID: 9671806
See you point.Thanks. Total agreement on the potential for confusion;).

-- Glenn
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