Why the distinction between free software and GPL software is important

Nils Kassube kassube at gmx.net
Thu Apr 26 12:14:46 UTC 2007

On Thursday 26 April 2007 12:35, Mark Wallace wrote:
> The reason why the distinction between free and GPL software is
> important is someone could get into a lot of trouble is they took
> Reader and  used it as a basis to reverse engineer a product that
> would compete with the Acrobat full suite.  

Would you care to elaborate what definition of "free" you have in mind 
here? If you look it up at e.g. www.dictionary.com you get many 
definitions for "free", but only a few talk about the absence of money / 

> He would be free to do 
> that with XPDF, and could turn around and make what he did
> proprietary, as long as he made the original xpdf available for free.

I think xpdf is distributed under the GPL. Therefore the changes may 
become proprietary, but the combined product, i.e. the modified xpdf, may 
not become proprietory. The modified xpdf may only be distributed under 
the terms of the GPL.


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