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GNU General Public License
- Created 2012-02-15
GNU General Public License
) is the most widely used
free software license
, which guarantees
s (individuals, organizations, companies) the freedoms to use, study, share (copy), and modify the software. Software that ensures that these rights are retained is called
. The license was originally written by
Free Software Foundation
(FSF) for the
The GPL grants the recipients of a
the rights of
the Free Software Definition
to ensure the freedoms are preserved whenever the work is distributed, even when the work is changed or added to. The GPL is a copyleft license, which means that
s can only be distributed under the same license terms. This is in distinction to
permissive free software licenses
, of which the
are the standard examples. GPL was the first copyleft license for general use.
As of August 2007, the GPL accounted for nearly 65% of the 43,442
projects listed on
, and, about 68% of the projects listed on
. Similarly, a 2001 survey of
Red Hat Linux
7.1 found that 50% of the source code was licensed under the GPL and a 1997 survey of
, then the largest free software archive, showed that the GPL accounted for about half of the software licensed therein. Prominent free software programs licensed under the GPL include the
GNU Compiler Collection
(GCC). Some other free software programs (
is a prominent example) are
under multiple licenses, often with one of the licenses being the GPL.
It is believed that the
provided by the GPL was crucial to the success of
-based systems, giving the programmers who contributed to the kernel the assurance that their work would benefit the whole world and remain free, rather than being exploited by software companies that would not have to give anything back to the community.
On 29 June 2007, the third version of the license (GNU GPLv3) was released to address some perceived problems with the second version (GNU GPLv2) that were discovered during its long-time usage. To keep the license up to date the GPL license includes an optional "any later version" clause, allowing users to choose between the original terms or the terms in new versions as updated by the FSF. Developers can omit it when licensing their software; for instance the Linux kernel is licensed under GPLv2 without the "any later version" clause.
from Wikipedia (last updated: 09 December), licensed under
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