10 common misunderstandings about the GPL
The GNU General Public License (GPL) is one of the most widely used software licenses -- and, undoubtedly, the most misunderstood. Some of this misunderstanding comes from hostile propaganda, but some also comes from a lack of experience in licensing issues on the part of both lawyers and lay users, and the use of standard language in conventional end-user license agreements that are unthinkingly coupled with the GPL. In all cases, the confusion is frequently based on misreadings, rumors, secondhand accounts, and what is convenient to believe.
To get a sense of the most common misunderstandings, NewsForge consulted with three experts: Richard Fontana, a lawyer with the Software Freedom Law Center and one of the main drafters of the third version of the license; David Turner, former compliance engineer at the Free Software Foundation who is assisting with the revisions of the license; and Harald Welte of the GPL-Violations project, which tracks possible cases of non-compliance and tries to assist in resolving them. Taken together, the opinions of these experts offers a summary of the most common misunderstandings about the GPL, from comic exaggerations to potentially legitimate differences of opinion.