HSA Systems is interested in distributing GPS Babel as a free download through its website http://www.hsa.com.au. We are also considering distributing it with our Endeavour products. Could you let me know of the licensing issues involved here.
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From: Robert Lipe <robertlipe@us...> - 2005-02-03 07:33:50
Frank Hippmann wrote:
> HSA Systems is interested in distributing GPS Babel as a free download
> through its website www.hsa.com.au. We are also considering distributing
> it with our Endeavour products. Could you let me know of the licensing
> issues involved here.
Thanx for asking. You're at least the fifth or sixth to ask about
including GPSBabel with a commercial product.
GPSBabel is released under the GPL. Hand your legal types a copy of
'COPYING' from our distribution and be prepared to point them to
Without getting into all the nuances here, the highlights include
If you commercially distribute binaries not accompanied with
source code, the GPL says you must provide a written offer to
distribute the source code later. When users non-commercially
redistribute the binaries they received from you, they must pass
along a copy of this written offer. This means that people who
did not get the binaries directly from you can still receive
copies of the source code, along with the written offer.
It might be tempting to include a URL that refers to the
license, instead of the license itself. But you cannot be sure
that the URL will still be valid, five years or ten years from
now. Twenty years from now, URLs as we know them today may no
if you release the modified version to the public in some
way, the GPL requires you to make the modified source code
available to the program's users, under the GPL.
Honestly, I don't think you'll find it too onerous at all, but do take
the time to walk it down the hall to your legal folks.
With something like 75,000 downloads of GPSBabel (and I don't know how
many more in products like GSAK) I've never had one person ask me for a
copy of the source in media, but then again, since the way I distribute
it has the source only one linky link away from the binaries, it's not
exactly onerous for my users to get it.
Avoiding the whole LGPL thing is one reason that I encourage people
integrating it into other programs to just build command lines and call
out to the executable. It makes a very clear division of licensing.
That's covered at:
To head off a potential question that was asked before, for better
and worse, I really can't offer GPSBabel under any other license than
GPL. I've been very careful that everything that goes in is under a
license compatible with GPL, but not all of the code is mine; many of
the formats were contributed by others and there was no formal transfer
of copyrights. Therefore, while I'm kind of the custodian of the
collection, the legal reality is that GPSBabel is "owned" by many and
finding all the owners for permission to change the license is rather
Oh, and if I find out you're including it in a commercial program and
you're sitting on a beach in Jamaica while outsourcing GPSBabel support
to me for free, I'll be really annoyed. :-)