Talk:GNU General Public License

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The article at is so full of errors it makes a good starting point for a list of frequent misconceptions:

The GPL governs the programming instructions called source code that developers write and then convert into the binary files that computers understand.

  • The GNU GPL can apply to anything that can by copyrighted, not just computer programs.

At its heart, the GPL permits anyone to see, modify and redistribute that source code

  • This is misleading because the GNU GPL doesn't apply to anyone, it only applies to those who received the Objects. This is extremely important to those who make "in house" changes that they never intend to distribute.

as long as they make changes available publicly and license them under the GPL.

  • Again, nobody is required to make their changes public. It is only if the Objects are shared (or traded) that the GNU GPL comes into effect, and then only applies to that new party.

That contrasts with some licenses used in open-source projects that permit source code to be made proprietary.

  • This is disrespectful wording, as RMS is about to lose his voice from declaring his distance from Open Source. The term that continues to be unheard is Free Software, though Freedom Source would probably be even more complete and less confusing.

Another requirement is that GPL software may be tightly integrated only with other software that also is governed by the GPL. That provision helps to create a growing pool of GPL software, but it's also spurred some to label the license "viral," raising the specter that the inadvertent or surreptitious inclusion of GPL code in a proprietary product would require the release of all source code under the GPL."

  • This is true, but it should be noted that the integration is always a choice made by the proprietary copyright holder, and is never accidental except in cases where the GNU GPL is simply misunderstood (which is apparently quite often).