selling freebsd cd for profit

Chad Perrin perrin at
Sun Feb 28 01:56:18 UTC 2010

On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 07:58:51AM +0000, Matthew Seaman wrote:
> Some parts of the material in FreeBSD is under GPL, which means
> that you have to ensure source code is available for those bits: if
> you're redistributing the standard .iso images from the FreeBSD web
> sites, you can just point to the ways of getting the sources in the
> Handbook.

Actually, once your project becomes a commercial enterprise, the GPL
stops allowing reference to upstream sources to suit the requirements of
code redistribution.  If you sell GPLed software, you have to provide the
sources yourself -- and, if you offer the *option* of access to the
sources without actually ensuring that everybody gets a copy of the
sources right away, you have to maintain sources for each distributed
version for a number of years after the last such distribution.  I'm not
saying you *don't* have to maintain sources that long after the fact if
you make sure everybody gets a copy right away; I haven't read the text
of the GPL in detail in a while, and don't recall that specific detail.

Note that I'm not a lawyer, and this does not constitute legal advice.
My only direct legal advice is to seek legal advice from a professional.

> Whether reselling for profit something that anyone can get for free
> is a viable business proposition I'll leave up to your better judgement.

That's really true of software under *any* license -- because it's
basically free to copy and distribute.  The only question is whether it's
reasonable to expect to be able to get the government to enforce your
business model for you.  If not (as in the case of something distributed
under the terms of the BSD license), you'll probably need to offer
something additional (such as local presence for physical, face to face
transactions, or a package deal with something else, or perhaps free
support above and beyond what's available from the FreeBSD project
itself, and so on).

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: ]
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