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Legal Question concerning free code posted on the Internet


I would like to know what are the rules and laws concerning software code, which people post on the Internet for free.

I have been writing MS Access VBA code for many years now and I would like to start selling some modules, which I have written over the years. However, within my modules, i sometimes have sections of code or sub-modules, which I copied from people who posted various solutions on the Internet, in the public domain.

What are my legal obligations in this situation. Do I have to reference their work (I ask only because i don't know where some of it came from)? Am I within my rights to sell my modules, which contains small section of other peoples code (obtained from the internet forums)?

Please advise. Thanks.

3 Solutions
Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]Billing EngineerCommented:
all code that is "signed" to be part of GNU needs to me marked accordingly, but actually cannot be sold.
if the code is very generic, nothing needs to be done, as it's not ingenious, eventually.
EirmanChief Operations ManagerCommented:
Am I within my rights to sell my modules, which contains small section of other peoples code
If it's just small sections/snippets, I can't see why not ..... even if it's GNU. If the code is very special it will have a notice in the comments.

With regard to the millions of functions and code snippets out there in forums such as here ..... use them liberally .... 99% + of posters out there want to share their knowledge and the know that the majority of people are using this type of forum, are using any knowledge gained, for their business (thus for profit).

If it's legal to quote a few sentences from a copyrighted book, so I can't see any problems with uncopyrighted code.

Some reading ....
I think that most who post are doing so in the spirit of sharing.  I've posted many snippets of code over the years, with thousands of hits on that code, and I have no expectations whatsoever with that code, other than the fact that I am happy that someone could use it.  If a poster is concerned, then they will post their code with a GNU license statement of some kind (which you should honor), or a copyright notice.  If the code you have used has neither, then I would feel free to use it.

That said, I would pay close attention from now on to the sites where you get the code, as the sites may have some kind of blanket statements as to the use of the code posted there.  On help sites like EE, it's rare that anyone is posting code for any reason other than the free sharing of information.
Dylan_EAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for posting your comments. It has been very helpful.
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