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Encyclopedia > Free software license

Free software is software which grants recipients the freedom to modify and redistribute the software. This would normally be prohibited by copyright law, so with free software, the copyright holder must give recipients the explicit permission to do these things. This grant of rights is called a licence, and if the above noted freedoms are included in the grant, the licence is a free software licence. This article is about free software as defined by the sociopolitical free software movement; for information on software distributed without charge, see freeware. ... Computer software (or simply software) refers to one or more computer programs and data held in the storage of a computer for some purpose. ... Mohandas K. Gandhi - Freedom can be achieved through inner sovereignty. ... Copyright symbol Copyright is a set of exclusive rights regulating the use of a particular expression of an idea or information. ...


Put another way, a free software licence is a licence which grants, to the recipients, permissions which remove any ownership issues which would otherwise prevent the software from being free software. A license or licence is a document or agreement giving permission to do something. ... This article is about free software as defined by the sociopolitical free software movement; for information on software distributed without charge, see freeware. ...

Contents

FSF-approved free software licences

Free Software Foundation, the group that maintains The Free Software Definition, maintains a list of free software licences.[1] The list distinguishes between free software licences that are compatible or incompatible with the FSF licence of choice, the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft licence. The list also contains licences which the FSF considers non-free for various reasons. Note that the open source licence list differs slightly, but in almost all cases the definitions apply to the same licences. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a non-profit corporation founded in October 1985 by Richard Stallman to support the free software movement (free as in freedom), and in particular the GNU project. ... The Free Software Definition is a definition published by Free Software Foundation (FSF) for what constitutes free software. ... The GNU logo The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a widely-used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project. ... The reversed c in a full circle is the copyleft symbol. ... Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a non-profit organisation founded in 1985 by Richard Stallman to support the free software movement (free as in freedom), and in particular the GNU project. ... ...

For more details on this topic, see List of FSF approved software licences.

The following is a list of software licences which Free Software Foundation has approved as complying with their Free Software Definition. ...

OSI-approved "open source" licences

Another group, Open Source Initiative, also maintains a list of approved licences. The Open Source Initiative is an organization dedicated to promoting open source software. ...

For more details on this topic, see List of OSI approved software licences.

An open-source license is a copyright license for computer software that makes the source code available under terms that allow for modification and redistribution without having to pay the original author. ...

Freedom-preserving restrictions

In order to preserve the freedom to use, study, modify, and redistribute free software, most free software licences carry requirements and restrictions which apply to distributors. There exists an ongoing debate within the free software community regarding the fine line needed between restrictions which preserve freedom and those which reduce it. // The free software community is also called the open source community or the Linux community. ...


Licence compatibility

Licences of software packages containing contradictory requirements, render it impossible to combine source code from such packages in order to create new software packages.[1]


Licence proliferation

Licence proliferation compounds the problems of licence incompatibility. It likewise burdens software developers and distributors by increasing the amount of legal documents they must read. Licence proliferation gained momentum during the late 1990s and increased into the early 2000s. By the year 2005, it was being identified as a problematic phenomenon and the gratuitous writing of new licences became more frowned upon.


Thwarting new attacks

During the 1990s, free software licences began including clauses, such as patent retaliation, in order to protect against software patent litigation cases which had not previously existed. This new threat became the primary purpose for composing the new version 2 of the GNU GPL[2]. In the decade 2000, tivoisation has emerged as yet another new threat which current free software licences are not protected from. Patent retaliation clauses are included in several free software licenses, including version 3 of the GNU General Public License. ... Tivoization is the creation of a system that incorporates software under the terms of a copyleft software license, but uses hardware to prevent users from running modified versions of the software on that hardware. ...


Copyleft

Main article: copyleft

Since the mid 1980s, free software licences written by Richard Stallman pioneered a concept known as copyleft. Ensuing copyleft provisions stated that modified versions of free software must be distributed under the same terms as the original software. Thus, all enhancements and additions to copylefted software must also be distributed as free software. This is sometimes referred to as "share and share alike" or "quid pro quo". The reversed c in a full circle is the copyleft symbol. ...


Patent retaliation

Main article: Patent retaliation

Most newly written free software licences since the late 1990s include some form of patent retaliation clauses. These measures ensure that one's rights under the licence (such as to redistribution), may be terminated if one attempts to enforce specific patent monopolies, under noted circumstances, as specified in the licence. As an example, the Apple Public Source License may terminate a user's rights if said user embarks on litigation proceedings against them due to patent litigation. Patent retaliation emerged in response to proliferation and abuse of software patents. Patent retaliation clauses are included in several free software licenses, including version 3 of the GNU General Public License. ... Software patents are a type of intellectual property and one of many legal aspects of computing. ...


DRM and Tivoisation

For more details on this topic, see Tivoisation.

As of late 2006, no free software licences contain explicit language prohibiting additional restrictions being enforced by Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). Current discussion drafts of version 3 of the GNU GPL do, however, propose to include such specific language in order to deter "Tivoization". Tivoization is the creation of a system that incorporates software under the terms of a copyleft software license, but uses hardware to prevent users from running modified versions of the software on that hardware. ... Digital Rights Management or Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) is an umbrella term for any of several arrangements which allows a vendor of content in electronic form to control the material and restrict its usage in various ways that can be specified by the vendor. ...


Attribution, disclaimers and notices

The majority of free software licences require that modified software not claim to be unmodified. Some licences also require that copyright holders be credited. One such example is version 2 GNU GPL, which requires that interactive programs that print warranty or licence information, may not have these notices removed from modified versions intended for distribution.


Unacceptable restrictions

Purpose of use

Restrictions on private use of the software ("use restrictions") are generally unacceptable. Examples include prohibiting the software to be used for military purposes, for comparison or benchmarking, or in commercial organisations[3][4][5]. For this reason, the Hacktivismo Enhanced-Source Software License Agreement, and the Spanish SLUC licences are not considered free software by the standards of FSF, OSI, Debian, or the BSD-based distributions. SLUC is a Spanish acronym for Software Libre para Uso Civil (Free Software for Civil Use). This is a software license published in Spain in December 2006 to allow all but military use of this kind of software. ... The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a non-profit corporation founded in October 1985 by Richard Stallman to support the free software movement (free as in freedom), and in particular the GNU project. ... The Open Source Initiative is an organization dedicated to promoting open source software. ... Debian is a project based around the development of a free, complete operating system through the collaboration of volunteers from around the world. ...


BSD philosophy

For more details on this topic, see Permissive and copyleft licences.

Many users and developers of BSD-based operating systems have a different position on licensing. The main difference is the belief that the copyleft licences, particularly the GNU General Public License (GPL), are too complicated and have restrictions which are undesirable. The GPL requires derivative work to be released according to the GPL while the BSD licence does not. Essentially, the BSD licence's only requirement is to acknowledge the original authors, and poses no restrictions on how the source code may be used. As a result, BSD code can find its way into proprietary software that only acknowledge the source. For instance, the IP stack in Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X are derived from BSD-licensed software. Styles of licensing free software and free content are often categorised into two approaches. ... Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD, sometimes called Berkeley Unix) is the Unix derivative distributed by the University of California, Berkeley, starting in the 1970s. ... The reversed c in a full circle is the copyleft symbol. ... The GNU logo The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a widely-used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project. ... Source code (commonly just source or code) is any series of statements written in some human-readable computer programming language. ... Proprietary software is software with restrictions on using, copying and modifying as enforced by the proprietor. ... The internet protocol suite is the set of communications protocols that implement the protocol stack on which the Internet and most commercial networks run. ... Microsoft Windows is the name of several families of proprietary software operating systems by Microsoft. ... Mac OS X (official IPA pronunciation: ) is a line of proprietary, graphical operating systems developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc. ...


GPL supporters claim that mandating derivative works remain free fosters the growth of free software and requires equal participation by all users. Developers who use GPL code have to share their improvements with the community, supporting the growth of the software they received.


Supporters of the BSD licence argue that it is more free than the GPL because it grants the right to do anything with the source code, second only to software in the public domain. The nature of BSD has encouraged the inclusion of well-developed standard code into proprietary software. In response, GPL supporters claim that this is more a form of power than a freedom.[2] The right to make closed-source code is therefore not included in the Free Software Foundation's "four freedoms of free software"; using, studying, copying, and distributing modifications of the code. The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a non-profit corporation founded in October 1985 by Richard Stallman to support the free software movement (free as in freedom), and in particular the GNU project. ...


Code licensed under the BSD licence can be relicensed under the GPL (is "GPL-compatible") without securing the consent of all original authors. Code under the GPL cannot be relicensed under the BSD licence without securing the consent of all copyright holders, as the BSD licence is not copyleft and therefore GPL is "BSD-incompatible". Existing free software BSDs tend to avoid including software licensed under the GPL in the core operating system, or the base system, except as a last resort when alternatives are non-existent or vastly less capable, such as with GCC. The OpenBSD project has acted to remove GPL-licensed tools in favour of BSD-licensed alternatives, some newly written and some adapted from older code. The GNU Compiler Collection (usually shortened to GCC) is a set of programming language compilers produced by the GNU Project. ... OpenBSD is a freely available Unix-like computer operating system descended from Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), a Unix derivative developed at the University of California, Berkeley. ...


Debian

The Debian project uses the criteria laid out in its Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). The only notable cases where Debian and Free Software Foundation disagree are over the Artistic License and the GNU Free Documentation License. Debian accept the original Artistic License as being a free software licence, but FSF disagree. This has very little impact however since the Artistic License is almost always used in a dual-licence setup, along with the GNU General Public License. Debian is a project based around the development of a free, complete operating system through the collaboration of volunteers from around the world. ... The Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) are a set of guidelines that the Debian Project uses to determine whether a software license is free software license, which in turn is used to determine whether a piece of software can be included in the main, free software distribution of Debian. ... The Artistic License is a software license used for certain free software packages, most notably the standard Perl implementation, most of CPAN modules and Parrot, which are dual-licensed under the Artistic License and the GNU General Public License (GPL). ... GNU logo (similar in appearance to a gnu) The GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL or simply GFDL) is a copyleft license for free content, designed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for the GNU project. ... Dual-licensing is the practice of distributing identical software under two different sets of terms and conditions. ... The GNU logo The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a widely-used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project. ...


Regarding the GNU Free Documentation License, Debian argues that the DFSG applies to documentation as it does on software, and so documentation licences must be examined against these free software guidelines. FSF say that documentation is qualitatively different from software and is subject to different requirements. The end result of a long discussion and the eventual vote in Debian[3] is that the works licensed under the GFDL are considered free as long as they do not contain unmodifiable sections (Invariant Sections). GNU logo (similar in appearance to a gnu) The GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL or simply GFDL) is a copyleft license for free content, designed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for the GNU project. ...


See also

Free software Portal

Image File history File links Floss_draft. ... The reversed c in a full circle is the copyleft symbol. ... The Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) are a set of guidelines that the Debian Project uses to determine whether a software license is free software license, which in turn is used to determine whether a piece of software can be included in the main, free software distribution of Debian. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... A software license agreement is a memorandum of contract between a producer and a user of computer software which grants the user a software license. ...

References

  1. ^ http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT7188273245.html
  2. ^ http://fsfeurope.org/projects/gplv3/tokyo-rms-transcript.en.html#v1v2
  3. ^ http://www.gnu.org/licenses/hessla.html
  4. ^ http://www.fsf.org/blogs/licensing/freeasinbombs
  5. ^ http://fsfeurope.org/projects/gplv3/barcelona-rms-transcript#q11-banning-bad-use

External links

Online, freely-licensed books and reports

IOSN, announcing its interests The International Open Source Network has as its slogan software freedom for all. It is a Centre of Excellence for free software (also known as FLOSS, FOSS, or open-source software) in the Asia-Pacific region. ... Forfás is the national policy advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation in Ireland. ...

Non-free, printed publications

  • Die GPL kommentiert und erklärt (The GPL commented and explained, in German), by ifrOSS
  • Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law, by Larry Rosen

  Results from FactBites:
 
Free software at AllExperts (2879 words)
The usual way for software to be distributed as free software is for the software to be licensed to the recipient with a free software license (or be in the public domain), and the source code of the software to be made available (for a compiled language).
Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative both publish lists of licenses that they find to comply with their definition of free software and open-source software respectively.[3] The lists are necessarily incomplete, because a license need not be known by either organisation in order to provide these freedoms.
Software that is not free software is known as proprietary software.
Various Licenses and Comments about Them - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF) (6737 words)
This is a free software license, and a copyleft license.
This is a free software license, not a strong copyleft, and incompatible with the GNU GPL.
This is a Free Documentation license that is incompatible with the GNU FDL.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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