Archive:GNU General Public License

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The GNU General Public License(GNU GPL or just GPL) is the license used by the GNU Project and is seen as the original copyleft license. It was created by Richard Stallman (with the help of a legal team).

The purpose or the GPL is to grant users of GPLed software the freedoms required to ensure that a program is Free software while also ensuring that the program remains Free Software, no matter who takes it and changes it. It does this by requiring that all software that makes use of GPLed code also be released under the GPL.

The GPL grants the user of software licensed under it four major freedoms. There are:

  • The Freedom to use the program for any purpose. (Freedom 0)
  • The Freedom to study the program, to learn how it works to adapt it to your needs. (Freedom 1)
  • The Freedom to distribute copys of the program, whether gratis or for a fee. (Freedom 2)
  • The Freedom to improve the program and distribute your improvements, either gratis or for a fee. (Freedom 3)

Some have deemed the copyleft quality of the GPL "viral" (mostly proprietary software programmers and executives of proprietary software companies) as it makes anything it touches GPLed as well. The people who make this claim generally push for " BSD Style" licensing, where code can easily be included in proprietary software, giving their claims little credibility as they are generally seen as loosely veiled attacks on the Free Software Movement as a whole.

There are tens of thousands of programs licensed under the GPL. It is the single most popular Free Software/Open Source license.

See also