Subject: Re: GNU GPL vs. source code fees
From: John Cowan <>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2010 09:54:44 -0500

Lior W. scripsit:

> states authors can charge 
> whatever they want, but only for binaries. What they don't say is what's 
> the limit for source codes. Does the license dictate the source code be 
> given for free or can it have a cost just as long as it's "reasonable"?

What the GPL says is that IF you sell or give away the binary, you
must also provide the corresponding source for no more than (ten times)
your actual cost to transfer it, such as the cost of a CD-ROM.

The words "ten times" apply to the GPLv3 only.

There is nothing to prevent you from selling source alone, or from
selling source and binary together.  Economic reality plus the GPL
rights will tend to drive the cost of source down to the transfer cost,
however, as once anyone has the source, they can freely redistribute it
to anyone else.

There is nothing in the GPL about "reasonable price".  The FSF itself
sells sources and binaries for the entire list of GNU software for
US$5000 per copy, the same things you can get on line for $0.

John Cowan
Lope de Vega: "It wonders me I can speak at all.  Some caitiff rogue
did rudely yerk me on the knob, wherefrom my wits yet wander."
An Englishman: "Ay, belike a filchman to the nab'll leave you
crank for a spell." --Harry Turtledove, Ruled Britannia