What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

Do I have to release my code under GPL?

Page 1 of 1

8 Replies - 7472 Views - Last Post: 29 December 2008 - 07:20 AM

#1 jens  Icon User is offline

  • D.I.C Regular
  • member icon

Reputation: 67
  • View blog
  • Posts: 430
  • Joined: 09-May 08

What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

Post icon  Posted 09 December 2008 - 08:21 AM

Hello!

I came across Mono a cross platform devlopment system for .NET languages, i.e. VB, C# and ASP. Mono is released under three different open source licenses and this makes me very unsure about my legal status.

I have read the text at the above page but I didn't understand what it means. Could someone help me clarify how this works. Take my own situation as a first example.

1a) I currently work at a company programming PLCs and MMIs for these. The MMIs are written in VB6 but we are thinking about migrating to VB.NET. Suppose we make our MMIs in Mono, will this mean that we have to share our MMI code? We absolutely do not want to do that since we have developed some very special stuff that is used in the MMI giving us an edge in the competition.
1b) Would we also have to release the PLC code? Since it's closely related to the MMI stuff I'm sure some lawyer migt get the idea...

2) I have an idea for my own business on the net. This idea is based on pretty complex databases and presenting them on the web. If I develop my stuff in Mono, will I have to release my code under GPL? No way I'd do that since the database layout will be known through the code as well as the business logic and in my case the compilation of bussiness logic is the idea.

At the mono site they write Both the Mono runtime and the Mono C# Compiler are also available under a proprietary license for those who can not use the LGPL and the GPL in their code. - What does this really mean? Under what circumstances can someone use the LGPL and/or GPL license, under what circumstances can someone not use them?

Regards
/Jens

PS: I marked this Advanced since this is pretty nasty legal stuff and guessing won't do, also it has really heavy implications on companies and developers if they don't watch out!

This post has been edited by skyhawk133: 09 December 2008 - 04:59 PM


Is This A Good Question/Topic? 0
  • +

Replies To: What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

#2 AdaHacker  Icon User is offline

  • Resident Curmudgeon

Reputation: 452
  • View blog
  • Posts: 811
  • Joined: 17-June 08

Re: What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

Posted 09 December 2008 - 10:37 AM

Short answer: from what you've described, you're in the clear. You wouldn't have to give anybody anything.

Long answer:
It depends on exactly what you're doing and what you're distributing. From what you've said, it sounds like you'd simply be writing programs for the .NET platform and running them with Mono instead of Microsoft's .NET runtime. If that's the case, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Just building or running a program using a compiler or interpreter covered by the GNU GPL does not impose any licensing conditions on your program.

From the licenses listed on the Mono page, the only way you would have to release your application code is if you started taking pieces of the Mono source code and copying it into your application. The C# compiler and class libraries are under an X11/MIT license, which basically says you can do anything with the code except claim that you wrote it. The runtime libraries are under the LGPL, so if you're using them in the normal way, you're fine. The tools are under the GPL proper, but unless you're stealing code from them, that doesn't affect your application.

If you're really concerned, you might want to take some time and actually read through the GNU GPL and the Free Software Foundation's FAQs. It's not really as complicated as you might think.
Was This Post Helpful? 1
  • +
  • -

#3 Tom9729  Icon User is offline

  • Segmentation fault
  • member icon

Reputation: 180
  • View blog
  • Posts: 2,641
  • Joined: 30-December 07

Re: What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

Posted 09 December 2008 - 11:05 AM

People freak out over GCC being GPL as well.

GPL just means that if you modify something, you have to release the source code for it.

The language is not GPLed, only the implementation. Unless you plan on modifying the implementation (ie. distributing your own runtime), you have nothing to worry about.
Was This Post Helpful? 1
  • +
  • -

#4 jens  Icon User is offline

  • D.I.C Regular
  • member icon

Reputation: 67
  • View blog
  • Posts: 430
  • Joined: 09-May 08

Re: What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

Posted 09 December 2008 - 04:24 PM

Thanks!

I believe that the answer to the following is implicated in your answers but just to be sure: Who can NOT use LGPL and / or GPL in their code?

I wouldn't even have to include a LGPL/GPL copyright notice?

/Jens
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#5 AdaHacker  Icon User is offline

  • Resident Curmudgeon

Reputation: 452
  • View blog
  • Posts: 811
  • Joined: 17-June 08

Re: What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

Posted 09 December 2008 - 06:03 PM

View Postjens, on 9 Dec, 2008 - 05:24 PM, said:

Who can NOT use LGPL and / or GPL in their code?

Simple: people who are unwilling or unable to release their own code under the GPL/LGPL. The basic rule is that if you put GPLed code into your application, your application source code has to be released under the terms of the GPL. There are any number of reasons why you might not be able to do that: you don't have full ownership of the code, your code uses a patented technology, it relates to some trade secret, etc.

But again, if you're not actually putting any GPLed code into your application, this is not an issue for you.

View Postjens, on 9 Dec, 2008 - 05:24 PM, said:

I wouldn't even have to include a LGPL/GPL copyright notice?

Why would you? You're not putting any GPL/LGPLed code in your application, are you? You're not including any GPLed code or libraries (modified or not) in your release, are you? It's just going to be your application, written entirely by you, right? In that case, you own the application and you can license it under any terms you want. There's no need for a GPL/LGPL copyright notice because you're not distributing any GPLed code.

This post has been edited by AdaHacker: 09 December 2008 - 06:04 PM

Was This Post Helpful? 1
  • +
  • -

#6 jens  Icon User is offline

  • D.I.C Regular
  • member icon

Reputation: 67
  • View blog
  • Posts: 430
  • Joined: 09-May 08

Re: What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

Posted 10 December 2008 - 12:30 AM

Ok, thank you! :) Sorry I'm a little dense. This legal sh*t always gives me the creeps. :angry: I now think I understand enough about this to stop worrying so much about it and start thinking about how to - eventually - migrate from IIS + SQL server to Ubuntu + Apache + MySql + Mono. But that's another matter. :D Thanks guys!

/Jens
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#7 Tom9729  Icon User is offline

  • Segmentation fault
  • member icon

Reputation: 180
  • View blog
  • Posts: 2,641
  • Joined: 30-December 07

Re: What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

Posted 10 December 2008 - 12:37 AM

I'm all for promoting Linux, but if you're programming in C# you should probably just use Microsoft's tools (unless you have a very good reason not to). :)
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#8 badjava  Icon User is offline

  • Lux Ex Tenebris
  • member icon

Reputation: 14
  • View blog
  • Posts: 540
  • Joined: 30-October 08

Re: What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

Posted 29 December 2008 - 12:48 AM

View PostTom9729, on 9 Dec, 2008 - 11:37 PM, said:

I'm all for promoting Linux, but if you're programming in C# you should probably just use Microsoft's tools (unless you have a very good reason not to). :)


If she's developing on Ubuntu it's a given she's not working in C# isn't it? At least up to today I'm pretty sure there isn't any cross platform SDK released.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#9 GWatt  Icon User is offline

  • member icon

Reputation: 274
  • View blog
  • Posts: 3,074
  • Joined: 01-December 05

Re: What does GPL mean to me? (Legal)

Posted 29 December 2008 - 07:20 AM

http://www.mono-project.com/Main_Page
It's been around for a couple years.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

Page 1 of 1