Commercial Use and Source Code

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Commercial Use and Source Code

Aron Reman
Hi Debian Legal,

I am developing an embedded system for a commercial application that is running a Debian based OS. I am developing C/C++ code that is running in the user space and am wondering, am I able to distribute my system without giving up my source code? At what point do I need to make my source code public?

Thanks,

Aron
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Re: Commercial Use and Source Code

Jean-Philippe MENGUAL-3
Hi,

The first thing I think is tat you do not have to publish your code.
Free software requests you to let the user free with your source, not
you to work publicly. A code may be free if you give the user the source
and all the freedoms.

About your project, it depends on what programs you use. If you use free
software, you are under their license (GPL or other). According to some
licenses, you have to share your changes with the author when you re-use
a free program, others do not say this.

If you just add code in Debian, I think you are free. Just do not make
inacessible some source under a free license.

Regards



Jean-Philippe MENGUAL
Le 19/07/2019 à 18:37, Aron Reman a écrit :

> Hi Debian Legal,
>
> I am developing an embedded system for a commercial application that is
> running a Debian based OS. I am developing C/C++ code that is running in
> the user space and am wondering, am I able to distribute my system
> without giving up my source code? At what point do I need to make my
> source code public?
>
> Thanks,
>
> Aron

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Re: Commercial Use and Source Code

Aron Reman
Hi,

Thank you for the response. I just wanted some clarification. Under the Debian license, I do not have to release source code as long as I am writing my source code on top of the existing system correct? As in, I am writing C/C++ code and running it on a Debian OS, which will be on my product that is going to be sold commercially. It is my understanding that under these conditions, I do not need to make my source code public.

Thanks,

Aron

On Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 1:46 PM Jean-Philippe MENGUAL <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi,

The first thing I think is tat you do not have to publish your code.
Free software requests you to let the user free with your source, not
you to work publicly. A code may be free if you give the user the source
and all the freedoms.

About your project, it depends on what programs you use. If you use free
software, you are under their license (GPL or other). According to some
licenses, you have to share your changes with the author when you re-use
a free program, others do not say this.

If you just add code in Debian, I think you are free. Just do not make
inacessible some source under a free license.

Regards



Jean-Philippe MENGUAL
Le 19/07/2019 à 18:37, Aron Reman a écrit :
> Hi Debian Legal,
>
> I am developing an embedded system for a commercial application that is
> running a Debian based OS. I am developing C/C++ code that is running in
> the user space and am wondering, am I able to distribute my system
> without giving up my source code? At what point do I need to make my
> source code public?
>
> Thanks,
>
> Aron


--

Aron Reman

Product Engineer


1910 Crown Park Ct.
Columbus, OH 43235
Phone: 614-725-1778
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Re: Commercial Use and Source Code

Jean-Philippe MENGUAL-3

Le 19/07/2019 à 19:56, Aron Reman a écrit :
> Hi,
>
> Thank you for the response. I just wanted some clarification. Under the
> Debian license, I do not have to release source code as long as I am
> writing my source code on top of the existing system correct? As in, I

I think yes, note Debian has no license itself, it is a distribution of
free software. Debian also can distribute non-free softwar, even if it
is not supported officially (out of the main repo). Finally, not
releasing your code is not a sufficient reason to make it not free. It
is not if you do not give it to your users.


> am writing C/C++ code and running it on a Debian OS, which will be on my
> product that is going to be sold commercially. It is my understanding
> that under these conditions, I do not need to make my source code public.

Yes I think. Now just decide about he freedoms with your license,
regardless its publicity

Regards

> Thanks,
>
> Aron
>
> On Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 1:46 PM Jean-Philippe MENGUAL
> <[hidden email] <mailto:[hidden email]>> wrote:
>
>     Hi,
>
>     The first thing I think is tat you do not have to publish your code.
>     Free software requests you to let the user free with your source, not
>     you to work publicly. A code may be free if you give the user the
>     source
>     and all the freedoms.
>
>     About your project, it depends on what programs you use. If you use
>     free
>     software, you are under their license (GPL or other). According to some
>     licenses, you have to share your changes with the author when you
>     re-use
>     a free program, others do not say this.
>
>     If you just add code in Debian, I think you are free. Just do not make
>     inacessible some source under a free license.
>
>     Regards
>
>
>
>     Jean-Philippe MENGUAL
>     Le 19/07/2019 à 18:37, Aron Reman a écrit :
>      > Hi Debian Legal,
>      >
>      > I am developing an embedded system for a commercial application
>     that is
>      > running a Debian based OS. I am developing C/C++ code that is
>     running in
>      > the user space and am wondering, am I able to distribute my system
>      > without giving up my source code? At what point do I need to make my
>      > source code public?
>      >
>      > Thanks,
>      >
>      > Aron
>
>
>
> --
>
> *Aron Reman*
>
> *Product Engineer*
> *
> *
> *
> *
> 1910 Crown Park Ct.
> Columbus, OH 43235
> Phone: 614-725-1778
> Email: [hidden email]
> <mailto:[hidden email]><mailto:[hidden email]>
> Web: www.tech4imaging.com <http://www.tech4imaging.com>
>

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Re: Commercial Use and Source Code

Nicholas D Steeves
In reply to this post by Aron Reman
Hi Aron,

On Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 01:56:14PM -0400, Aron Reman wrote:
>    Hi,
>    Thank you for the response. I just wanted some clarification. Under the
>    Debian license, I do not have to release source code as long as I am
>    writing my source code on top of the existing system correct? As in, I am
>    writing C/C++ code and running it on a Debian OS, which will be on my
>    product that is going to be sold commercially. It is my understanding that
>    under these conditions, I do not need to make my source code public.
>    Thanks,
>    Aron

It's important to note that any "Debian license" is usually limited
the the debian/* contents of a package.  Assuming you're not modifying
this, then there's no issue with potential violation of
Debian-specific copyright holders.

That said, is your "C/C++ code" 100% your own work, or does it build
on an existing package?  For example, let's say you work for a storage
company, you're developing a NAS product, and you'd like to modify
smartmontools to correctly read your drives' status.  If this modified
smartmontools is distributed on your NAS product, then those
modifications are bound by the smartmontools license terms.  To check
for stuff like this, see the package's corresponding copyright file.
eg, in this case: /usr/share/doc/smartmontools/copyright.  Your
lawyers should additionally ask you to audit the upstream source to
confirm that this convenience copy is accurate.

There are also tricky cases like QT, or at least a license like what
QT used to have.  That is to say, a license which grants distribution
rights for noncommercial use, but requires the purchase of a
commercial license for use in proprietary software.  I'm not sure if
the QT case is still current, but it's one reason why proprietary
software traditionally chose to use GTK rather than QT.

Finally, there's also software licensed under various BSD or MIT
licenses that explicitly allows proprietary modifications to be made
without a legal duty to provide the source code of modified parts.
Once again, check /usr/share/doc/package/copyright, and have your team
double-check.

Finally, also in the case of embedded, I believe one continues to have
a duty to provide the source code (plus modifications to the parts
that require it).  This is like AOSP and router firmwares. eg: you can
distribute proprietary *applications with* GPL software, but you can't
distribute proprietary *modifications to* GPL software.  eg:

  https://www.zdnet.com/article/symantec-may-violate-linux-gpl-in-norton-core-router/


Regards,
Nicholas

P.S. To everyone reading this, can we put this answer somewhere on the
debian.org, or is there a URL that already exists that we can refer
people to?

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