How saucy is Open Source

Richard Gaskin ambassador at
Wed Sep 2 11:46:31 EDT 2015

Richmond wrote:

 > On 09/02/2015 12:26 PM, Kaveh Bazargan wrote:
 >> On 2 September 2015 at 14:36, Fraser Gordon wrote:
 >>> On 2 Sep 2015, at 10:03, Richmond wrote:
 >>>> Would it be permissible to sell a book with a CD strapped to its
 >>>> back containing community versions of LiveCode?
 >>> Yes, that is allowed. As the Community engine is GPL’ed, you’d have
 >>> to include an offer to supply the source code for the engine, but
 >>> you can do this by having the source code on the CD too.
 >> And indeed you could sell the CD by itself as well!
 > No: I wouldn't do that.

You'd be in good company if you did:  Richard Stallman himself used to 
sell floppies containing the GNU utilities, all of them distributed 
under the GNU Public License he'd invented.  After all, he incurred 
costs in material and time to make those floppies, and felt those costs 
should be covered to allow him to continue doing so.

The GPL only address "free" as in "libre", and expresses no opinion 
about "free" as in "gratis".

We used to see CDs containing various Linux distributions for sale, and 
in some places you can still find them.

But in the Internet Age it's become very rare for anyone to charge a fee 
for a distribution of GPL-governed works, because the cost of 
distributing has now approached zero and the license grants explicit 
freedom to the recipient to also redistribute the source to anyone they 

In many cases this makes it likely that one would have only a single 
sale, since the purchaser has the freedom to them make the source 
available themselves at a lower cost or even zero cost if they like.

That said, it's noteworthy that the Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal 
communities have a rather thriving world of commercially-sold add-ons 
for those CMSes, even with very explicit interpretation of GPL terms 
which consider not only libraries but even themes to be "derivative 
works" requiring GPL adoption downstream.

It's fully within the rights of anyone in those communities to 
redistribute any plugins, libraries, or themes at any price they like, 
even undercutting the original authors with a price of zero.

But interestingly, few do.  They tend to support those who sell add-ons 
by encouraging others to pay the commercial price by obtaining them from 
the original author, rather than redistributing the add-ons themselves. 
  There is no shame in doing otherwise, as it is indeed an explicit 
freedom granted in the license, but I find it interesting how those 
communities work.

Since LiveCode Ltd. makes LiveCode Community available at no cost, it 
doesn't harm them in any way if you were to collect a modest fee to 
cover the cost of CD manufacturing.

Still, it may be not only less expensive for you but also a benefit to 
the user to encourage them to download from, if only to 
help ensure they're getting the most recent version.  At the current 
pace of releases, any batch of CDs is likely to be outdated within just 
a couple weeks after manufacture.

  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Systems
  Software Design and Development for the Desktop, Mobile, and the Web
  Ambassador at      

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