GNU General Public License


GNU General Public License
GPLv3 Logo.svg
AuthorRichard Stallman
Latest version3
PublisherFree Software Foundation
Published25 February 1989 (1989-02-25)
SPDX identifierGPL-3.0-or-later
GPL-3.0-only
GPL-2.0-or-later
GPL-2.0-only
GPL-1.0-or-later
GPL-1.0-only
Debian FSG compatibleYes[1]
OSI approvedYes[2]
CopyleftYes[3][4][5]
Linking from code with a different licenceNo (except for software licensed under GPL compatible licenses)[6]
Websitewww.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html Edit this at Wikidata

The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software licenses that guarantee end users the freedom to run, study, share, and modify the software.[7] The licenses were originally written by Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), for the GNU Project, and grant the recipients of a computer program the rights of the Free Software Definition.[8] The GPL series are all copyleft licenses, which means that any derivative work must be distributed under the same or equivalent license terms. This is in distinction to permissive software licenses, of which the BSD licenses and the MIT License are widely used, less restrictive examples. GPL was the first copyleft license for general use.

Historically, the GPL license family has been one of the most popular software licenses in the free and open-source software domain.[7][9][10][11][12] Prominent free software programs licensed under the GPL include the Linux kernel and the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC). David A. Wheeler argues that the copyleft provided by the GPL was crucial to the success of Linux-based systems, giving the programmers who contributed to the kernel the assurance that their work would benefit the whole world and remain free, rather than being exploited by software companies that would not have to give anything back to the community.[13]

In 2007, the third version of the license (GPLv3) was released to address some perceived problems with the second version (GPLv2) which were discovered during the latter's long-time usage. To keep the license up to date, the GPL license includes an optional "any later version" clause, allowing users to choose between the original terms or the terms in new versions as updated by the FSF. Developers can omit it when licensing their software; the Linux kernel, for instance, is licensed under GPLv2 without the "any later version" clause.[14][15]

  1. ^ "License information". The Debian Project. Software in the Public Interest (published 12 July 2017). 1997–2017. Archived from the original on 20 July 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2017. ... This page presents the opinion of some debian-legal contributors on how certain licenses follow the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). ... Licenses currently found in Debian main include:
    • ...
    • Expat/MIT-style licenses
    • ...
  2. ^ "Licenses by Name". Open Source Initiative. n.d. Archived from the original on 20 July 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2017. ... The following licenses have been approved by the OSI. ...
    • GNU General Public License version 2 (GPL-2.0)
    • GNU General Public License version 3 (GPL-3.0)
    • ...
  3. ^ "Various Licenses and Comments about Them". The GNU Project. Free Software Foundation (published 4 April 2017). 2014–2017. GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3. Archived from the original on 20 July 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2017. ... This is the latest version of the GNU GPL: a free software license, and a copyleft license. ... GPLv3 is not compatible with GPLv2 by itself. However, most software released under GPLv2 allows you to use the terms of later versions of the GPL as well. When this is the case, you can use the code under GPLv3 to make the desired combination. ...
  4. ^ "Various Licenses and Comments about Them". The GNU Project. Free Software Foundation (published 4 April 2017). 2014–2017. GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2. Archived from the original on 20 July 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2017. ... This is the previous version of the GNU GPL: a free software license, and a copyleft license. ... GPLv2 is, by itself, not compatible with GPLv3. However, most software released under GPLv2 allows you to use the terms of later versions of the GPL as well. When this is the case, you can use the code under GPLv3 to make the desired combination. ...
  5. ^ "Copyleft: Pragmatic Idealism – Free Software Foundation". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
  6. ^ "GPL FAQ: If a library is released under the GPL (not the LGPL)". GNU Project. Free Software Foundation.
  7. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference blackduck2015 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ "GPL FAQ: Does using the GPL for a program make it GNU Software?". GNU Project. Free Software Foundation.
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference redhat2000 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ Cite error: The named reference freecode2008 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  11. ^ Cite error: The named reference mattasay2011 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  12. ^ Cite error: The named reference waltervanholst2013 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  13. ^ "Why the GPL rocketed Linux to success". So while the BSDs have lost energy every time a company gets involved, the GPL'ed programs gain every time a company gets involved.
  14. ^ Torvalds, Linus. "COPYING". kernel.org. Retrieved 13 August 2013. [T]he only valid version of the GPL as far as the kernel is concerned is _this_ particular version of the license (ie v2, not v2.2 or v3.x or whatever), unless explicitly otherwise stated.
  15. ^ Linus Torvalds (8 September 2000). "Linux-2.4.0-test8". lkml.iu.edu. Retrieved 21 November 2015. The only one of any note that I'd like to point out directly is the clarification in the COPYING file, making it clear that it's only _that_particular version of the GPL that is valid for the kernel. This should not come as any surprise, as that's the same license that has been there since 0.12 or so, but I thought I'd make that explicit

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