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Imagine I've written a game and I want to make it free software. Am I also required to make the game server software free software because the game uses it to connect to other players to play against?

Imagine I've written a stock ticker and I wish to make it free software. Can I charge for the subscription to the stock information, even though the software serves little purpose without paying for such a subscription?

I'm also interested in revenue sources for free software that go beyond charging for distribution or support, that counteract one person purchasing your software and then distributing it themselves and undercutting your prices.

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  • one person purchasing your software and then distributing it themselves is pretty much the point of Free (libre) software. Systems to 'make' the users pay for it tend to be unpopular in the community. You kind of have to encourage people to voluntarily support development. See programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/32956/…
    – pjc50
    Oct 17, 2016 at 15:47

2 Answers 2

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No, there are no free-software licenses that I am aware of that would impose such a requirement. If there were you wouldn't be under any obligation to use that license but instead pick one of the others.

The client and server could even be under different licenses if you like.

Also, if no license suited your needs, you are free to create your own. As the copyright owner, you are free to release your software as you see fit.

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    Also, if no license suited your needs, you are free to create your own. Please don't, especially if you want to use some sort of free software license. Don't create yet another license and add to the overall confusion; please pick one of the many existing ones! (I agree with the rest of the advice from Dave, though).
    – Andres F.
    Dec 3, 2011 at 14:48
  • @Andres, good point, I totally agree. I was just pointing out that it's his code, he can do what he wants with it.
    – Dave Rager
    Dec 3, 2011 at 14:53
  • @AndresF. - That argument makes no sense. What you're saying is that the guy who created the second software license, is somehow guilty of the mess we have today, because the first license sucked, and he didn't want to use it.
    – Rook
    Dec 3, 2011 at 17:05
  • @Idigas: that's not what I am saying. Are you seriously arguing that every license in opensource.org/licenses sucks or is somehow inadecuate to your particular case? Wow.
    – Andres F.
    Dec 3, 2011 at 20:27
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I understand very well your question having had the same question some days ago with many hours of intense research about free software inbetween. :)

The problem is that free software is only free software if it respects the 4 freedoms to be able to execute, introspect/modify, share and optimize software.

So if your client is free, but it is actually just a GUI for a proprietary server, what is the client good for? Has the user really the freedom to execute the software at his will? If you create a free game, but it can't be played without a proprietary server, what is the game good for? Has the user really the freedom to execute the software at his will?

The thing is: Formally you aren't acting against GPL. You still could claim:"Well my server is free software, too. But it's modified free software and I don't want to distribute it which is perfectly ok.

It's because of this why GNU has added the Affero-License to close this loophole.

However, I'm afraid, as your software would reach a certain relevance you'd be the dork of the free software community. So why try to use the lable "free" if there's no use?

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  • I don't know why this has been so heavily downvoted - I've seen people making exactly these complaints about various bits of partially-Free software!
    – pjc50
    Oct 17, 2016 at 15:45
  • I touch the same topic here. Oct 17, 2016 at 15:53

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