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Gnu General Public License

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By inkmeup626
Words 916
Pages 4
GNU General Public License
Jake Lundberg
POS/355
12 April 2013
Terance Carlso

Although there are many individuals, groups, and companies that try to sell software and other works for a charge, and prohibit the distribution and modification of those works, there are some that wish to go in the opposite direction. By this we mean that in contrast, some individuals, groups, or organizations want to offer their software or other works to the public with free access for modification and distribution. While most licenses for these kinds of works are created and designed to keep others from modifying or distributing them, there is another license that is designed to guarantee the freedom to change and share all versions of a work, and also to ensure that all later versions of that work remain free as well. This license is call the GNU General Public License (also called the GNU GPL, or simply the GPL). Before we discuss the details of the GNU GPL, the definition of the term “free” must be discussed. “Free”, in the context of the GNU GPL, refers to freedom, not cost or price. Meaning this license ensures that one is given the right to distribute copies of the work, that you receive source code for the work (or that you can get it if you so desire), that you can modify the work however you desire, that you can add parts of the work to other free works, and that you are aware that you can do these things. The GNU GPL does not hinder one from charging for their work if they choose to do so. So basically, “free”, in this context, means “free information”, and not “free of charge”, though many works that are protected with GNU GPL do tend to be free, but that is just a coincidence. Any developer that creates or modifies an existing work has certain responsibilities when it comes to the modification or distribution of work protected by a GNU GPL. They must pass on to any recipients the same freedoms that the developer has. So any recipient of this work has the right to modify and distribute it themselves, and those recipients must know they have these rights. For the protection of developers, authors, and users of a work, the GPL explains very clearly that there is no warranty for the product, and also that the modified versions be marked as changed so that previous authors are not mistakenly blamed for any problems with the work. In addition, “the GP: assures that patents cannot be used to render the program non-free” (“GNU Operating System”, 2007). Because programs are constantly at risk by software patents, the GPL helps to avoid situations where a patent of a free work could make it proprietary. Although the precise terms and conditions can be found at: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html let us discuss a few highlights of particular interest. Under Section 2. Basic Permissions, it states, “The output from running a covered work is covered by this License only if the output, given its content, constitutes a covered work” (“GNU Operating System”, 2007). So not only does the GNU GPL protect a work, but it also protects the output from that work, so long as that output constitutes a covered work. Section 8. Termination states, “You may not propagate or modify a covered work except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to propagate or modify it is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License” (“GNU Operating System”, 2007). Although the GNU GPL can be extremely helpful, it is not universal, and it is limited. If the exact stipulations in placed from the license are not adhered to, the license ceases to protect the work. Finally, to make a new program free which everyone can redistribute and change under the conditions of the GNU GPI, the following message should be attached to the program: <one line to give the program's name and a brief idea of what it does.> Copyright (C) <year> <name of author> This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

Information should also be added on how to contact the author of the original or modified versions via electronic or paper mail.

In conclusion, the GNU General Public License helps to protect the free use of software and other works. This protection extends to the users and future authors of the product as long as they adhere to the stipulations of the license agreement as well. The term “free” does not pertain to cost. Instead, it refers to the free use, modification, and distribution of software products. The precise terms and conditions for copying, distributing, and modification can be found at: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html.

Reference
GNU Operating System. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html

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