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Distributing and licensing software under the GPL

If my company builds a product under the GPL and contributes the source code to the open source community, could my company then sell that GPLed software to a vendor that might build extensions that are proprietary? Or, could someone in the open source community tweak my company's original GPLed software and then sell their version to a vendor?

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Your company could easily multi-license software it owns. If you own the code you can license it any way you want. On the other hand, if your code is compiled and linked with run-time libraries that are subject to the GPL then your options become considerably limited. If you do not have exclusive ownership of code that uses GPL libraries you are bound to observe the terms and conitions of the GPL. The same terms and conditions will apply to anyone else who obtains code your company has developed.

This was first published in March 2004

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