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GNU/GPL licensing questions within a corporation


Overclocked Like A Mother

What does this really mean for a small company? Can they use a GNU/GPL licensed software? How freely can it be used?

Software like OpenOffice, Thunderbird, UltraVNC, Linux all fall under the GNU in one form or another, from what I read at http://www.gnu.org/

Is there any limitations in a corporate office to using such software?



Political User
(I am not a lawyer, and any and all advice should be checked up with a lawyer in your jurisdiction).

If you are just using and installing the software you may do so freely. There is absolutely no limit, and it is actually something that should happen more. Open Source Software is great, and I absolutely love using it on my various systems. There is no limit to how you use it, no limit to how many copies you hand out to employees, no need to let anyone know you are using it, no need to hand over any cash.

The GPL license really comes into effect when you modify the source code for a program. As soon as you modify and distribute the software, you are required to provide the patches or source code to your modified piece of software so that others may take the code you created and put it back in the original or use it for their own needs.

The creative commons has put up awesome pages that let you instantly see what you are allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do with certain licensed code:


Assuming it is GPL v 2, if it is GPL v 3, some more restrictions apply (with regards to patents and DRM, but don't worry about those if you are not modifying the software). Hopefully that answers some questions, if you have any more questions feel free to ask.


Overclocked Like A Mother
Great, Thanks

IT really does explain a lot,

I know this particular office, they are really interested in curbing licensing costs especially this year with Office2007 coming out and nothing in their work stations is working properly with it (Accounting software).

I installed OpenOffice in one workstation, and everything is working properly now, but the owner had really big concerns over the licensing of OpenOffice.

Thanks again,


Dark Atheist

Staff member
Political User
i have open office and office 2007 installed as i need to be able to read all docs i am sent, but as X said if its GNU/GPL you have nothing to worry about :)


Glaanies script monkey
Political User
For Heeter, there are no implications caused by running free software. If you are developing software and distributing it and linking or including GPL code, then you need to release your source code. If you are not developing software or doing anything with the source code, e.g. just using Openoffice in a corporate setting, then you have no concerns.

@ Geffy, I don't see what your big concerns with the GPL are. If you don't like the license, then don't use their code.
@ Geffy, I don't see what your big concerns with the GPL are. If you don't like the license, then don't use their code.
I don't ;)

I don't mind GPL for end user applications or front-ends, but if you release a useful library and expect people to use it use MIT or at the very least LGPL so that people who don't want to use GPL don't have to.
Mmmm, its not really relevant to the topic and I think we've managed to clear up the confusion as to when the GPL actually pops its head out of the ground.

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