Reasons For Using The GPL

For a project like the Giant Java Tree to succeed, the source code and all related work must come under a license that facilitates the development and distribution of the project. When we refer to the GPL, we implicitly include the LGPL. As far as the GJT project is concerned, either is acceptable and furthers the goals of the project.

You may wish to read the detailed discussion of the licensing issue for more information about licenses accepted on the GJT.

The GNU General Public License was chosen for the following, as well as other, reasons:

  • The GPL is well established and recognized.
  • The GPL is a well known entity.
  • A good deal of existing Java is licensed under the GPL.
  • The GPL is the license of choice for Linux, Perl, and other significant projects.

The Giant Java Tree has chosen the GPL for the benefit of all contributors, not because of some religious dogma. If you feel there is a better choice, please let your opinion be known. If other licenses can be found that work well with the GPL, then the project may open up the requirement to allow those licenses.

Editorial Comment

The General Public License is often poorly understood. If you have the time, I strongly recommend that you spend a little time visiting the Free Software Foundation website.

The first misunderstanding that most people have about licensing their software under the GPL is ownership. When you license your work under the GPL, you retain all ownership to the work.

Many people think the license is about extending use rights, much like the typical license for a commercial product. The GPL does extend use rights. It also guarentees those rights for the next guy also! However the GPL is really much more about ensuring that you, the author, do not lose your ownership of your code in the process of providing it to others for free.

In other words, the GPL is about establishing your ownership of your work, while extending the right to use and benefit from your work to the public and ensuring that right continues to be extended the public.

You may think these are subtleties, and that any old license of your software will do the job. I encourage you to research that issue. There are numerous cases out there where the simple public license has caused unexpected and undesirable outcomes.

Imagine a hypothetical case, where a developer licenses his software 'freely'. Then it was picked up by a commercial outfit, improved and debugged, and released as a newly derived work with their copyright and license. This new version becomes very popular, as many annoying bugs are fixed, and new enhancements made. Soon, the original work suffers in popularity and is forgotten. Shortly thereafter, the commercial outfits updates their license and begins to charge for the work.

The GPL is designed to prevent this from happening.

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All contents are licensed under the General Public License.