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The Business Model of Free Software: Legal Myths and Real Benefits

Authors
  • Gasperoni, Franco
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2004
Source
HAL-SHS
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown
External links

Abstract

Free Software is the term coined by Richard Stallman in 1983 to denote programs whose sources are available to whoever receives a copy of the software and come with the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.As Richard Stallman’s concept grew in popularity, and with the subsequent advent of GNU/Linux, Free Software has received a great deal of attention and media publicity. With attention and publicity came expectations as well as a number of legal myths and confusions.The objective of this article is to clarify some of these legal misunderstandings while explaining how the legal fundamentals on which Free Software is based allow for a long-lasting business model based on a special kind of expertise-based support that benefits customers and guarantees the creation of a local pool of expertise.This article is based on our experience with GNAT Pro. GNAT Pro is the Free Software development environment for the Ada 95 programming language. It comprises a compiler that is part of GCC (the GNU Compiler Collection), a toolset and graphical Integrated Development Environment, and a set of supporting libraries.Developing, maintaining, and marketing GNAT Pro for ten years have provided significant experience with both technical and non-technical aspects of Free Software. This article summarizes the principal legal and business lessons learned.

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