[ubuntu-uk] ubuntu-uk Digest, Vol 68, Issue 16

Mark Harrison Mark at ascentium.co.uk
Thu Dec 9 14:28:09 GMT 2010

> > The FAQ confused me a bit 'coz from ancient memory, the maximum allowable
> charge is something like US$6.

Not at all.

The whole point of the GPL is that, once you've got a copy, you can do
whatever you like with it.

If you want to modify it, you're free to...
If you want to give away a copy, you're free to...
If you want to install it on a 1000 PCs, you're free to...
If you want to sell it for £5,000 a pop (and can find someone willing to pay
that much), you're free to...

... what you have to do, however, is pass on the same freedoms to anyone
else who gets a copy from you. So if you sell for a fiver, the person who
buys from you can make 1000 copies and sell them for £100 each if they want
to (and can find enough people willing to pay £100 a pop).

Putting a restriction on it that no-one can charge more than $6 is a breach
of the GPL, and forbidden! What we have to remember is that Ubuntu is a
"distribution" - it takes lots of software that other people have written,
and released under the GPL... and puts it all together in a way that ensures
all the bits work together, and it's straightforward to install.

The problem comes because, in English, the word FREE means both this and "at
zero charge."

In most languages, two different words are used for the two different
concepts. In French, for example, "libre" talks about freedom, and "gratuit"
means that there is no charge...

Alas, the Free Software Foundation throw around terms like "unethical" a
lot. It's not clear to me that they have a particularly strong ethical case
compared to, say, Bill Gates, whose company charges a lot of money for
software but who personally donates billions to education and healthcare,
and whose foundation is now widely regarded in the medical community as the
most likely source of a cure for many types of cancer... This is why a lot
of people in the Linux community find that going around talking about
"ethics" is a very difficult set of conversations... while talking about
reliability, cost-effectiveness, and supportability are all places where
Linux in general, and Ubuntu in particular are winning a lot of ground!
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