Reply To: Legal or Not Legal to Crowd Source

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Oliver Kreylos

Note: The following applies primarily to the USA, but should be similar in most other places.

The GNU General Public License (GPL) explicitly does not forbid selling a GPL-licensed software product. Without going into legalese, the only thing a licensee of a GPL software product can not do is re-license that software product to a third party under a non GPL-compatible license, such as, for example, a closed-source license. This is how Red Hat can sell Linux.

What this means in practice is that you can sell the SARndbox software (or any software derived from the SARndbox software) to a third party, for any amount of money you see fit. What you can not do is take those same rights away from your licensees: you have to give them the full source code of the software you sold, and you cannot prevent them from copying or modifying the software, or re-selling the software to a fourth party.

“Free” in the GPL means unencumbered by restrictions, not “free” as in no cost. Or in Richard Stallman’s words, “free as in speech, not free as in beer.”

Regarding the other hardware components (PC, projector, Kinect, etc.): These are goods as defined by ownership law, and legal owners can do with them as they please, including reselling them, say during a yard sale, or on eBay, or as part of an AR Sandbox sale. Some argue that complex goods such as projectors or 3D cameras also contain intellectual property, such as firmware or industrial designs, but fortunately, the US Supreme Court in 2013 upheld the first-sale doctrine, which explicitly allows resale, including resale for profit, of copyright- or trademark-protected physical objects by their legal owners.

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