[mythtv] Licensing issues

Michael T. Dean mtdean at thirdcontact.com
Thu Nov 17 20:34:56 EST 2005

Johnathon Meichtry wrote:

> I say good luck and I hope you can turn it into a real money making 
> venture. The more commercial organisations selling and shrinkwrapping 
> MythTV the better.  In terms of evolution and development it is only 
> early days but if major companies like Hauppauge etc. can ship 
> media/video players and not provide updates thereafter then I can't 
> see why you couldn't do the same with MythTV - as long as it works as 
> advertised and the consumer is getting value for money what does it 
> matter.
> In terms of LGPL and GPL licensing there is no reason why you cannot 
> make money from distributing a product containg LGPL and GPL.  My case 
> in point are the million of media players and STB's being shipped by 
> retailers and manufactuers.  For example Yahoo Broadband TV in  Japan, 
> their STB runs Open Source embedded linux with all the various 
> trappings and utilities/apps with their HTML UI.  The irony is that if 
> you call them up and ask them for a copy of the source (which is a 
> requirement under GPL) they will tell you to take a walk and say it's 
> developed in-house and confidential.

That part would be against the license agreement.  If they distribute a 
product containing GPL'ed code, they must make the code--and changes to 
the code--available free of charge to anyone who purchased a "binary" 
version of the software.

However, you're right about the fact that you can sell GPL'ed software.  
(Why do people think it's against the license agreement to sell GPL 
software?  It's not freeware...)  The only requirement is that you then 
make the source available to the people who buy it.  So, if I made a 
GPL'ed app and sold it for $100,000,000, I'm not breaking the GPL.  Of 
course, the guy who bought the app would ask for the source (which I'd 
have to provide free of charge) and start distributing the same app for 
much less (perhaps even free--and he's fully within his GPL rights to 
redistribute for free or for some charge)--at which point nobody would 
be crazy enough to pay my $1M price tag.  However, since I found someone 
to pay $1M, I don't care as I'm sitting back on the beach sipping my 
margarita...  ;)

See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html .


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