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Inside the GPL: Tip Sheet

  • The GPL doesn't contain restrictions on how software is to be used—just how it can be distributed, copied, or modified. Specifically, the GPL requires the following:

    • Any software distributed under the GPL has to be accompanied by the text of the GPL, unmodified in any way.

    • Software distributed under the GPL can and should contain copyright notices of the original author.

    • If you distribute software under the GPL, you have to provide a way (electronically and mail order) for people to obtain the source code.

    • If you modify a program covered by the GPL, you have to release your modifications under the GPL.

  • On the other hand, the GPL offers some freedoms:

    • If you're just an end user of a GPL-licensed product, you aren't required to distribute it.

    • You can still charge money for your product, even if it's released under the GPL.

    • Your product doesn't have to become a "GNU" product, and you don't give up your copyrights under the GPL.

Here are some more resources for learning more about the GPL and other non-restrictive public licenses:

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