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AHKnow*
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It would seem though, that if you (Chris the author) support the commercial use of AutoHotkey that this may be one of many factors that tips the balance.

The GPL does appear to have numerous examples of language that could be interpreted both ways. So it would really be up to legal experts, lawyers, or even a judge to figure everything out.

I also assume that the writer of the program would have a copyright for their portion (the script).

The argument would appear to get into what is or is not a derived work and the nature of binding a script to an .exe.

If AutoHotkey.exe is not altered and is distinct from the seller's ....AHK script, which may have its own copyright, than it is hard to see what the legal challenge would be based on, even though AutoHotkey.exe and the script have been combined into an executable (for convenience).

It would appear that it would take a GNU GPL lawyer to go after the person or company involved. Actually, the bigger threat may come from the lawyers of a very large company that feel threatened by the AutoHotkey compiled script and software. Such a large company may sue, just to get rid of its competition. But that scenario seems to be very unlikely as well.

It seems that the max. they could do would be to make the person stop selling the program. They may not even be able to do this, but to just force AutoHotkey.exe to be separated from the copyrighted .AHK script.

It does not appear that the GNU GPL could invalidate the software copyright for the script and force the author to reveal his/her source code.

Since, Chris, supports the commercial use of AutoHotkey and might switch from the GPL license to LGPL or some other license it would be hard to see if a legal challenge would even be worth the time for the lawyer that tried it.

Overall, it does not appear that there would be any advantage to the freeware community to go after anybody that was selling AutoHotkey compiled executables. It does appear that the whole point of the GPL and LGPL was to do what is most advantageous for the freeware community and not to be involved in frivolous lawsuits.

AHKnow*
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I also want to add, that it appears that using the LGPL instead of the GPL , would almost entirely put the argument about the commercial use of AutoHotkey to rest.

But even that being the case, it is really hard to see what the point of a legal challenge against the selling of AutoHotkey compiled programs would be and what benefit such a challenge would have for the freeware community.

corrupt
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Although I'm in favour of the license changing, and I have seen many other authors change the license after a program has been released aunder the GPL, the license cannot be changed once it has been used.

Assigning a new license to AutoHotkey is not allowed as it would go against the GPL license that has already been assigned.

A new version would certainly be a modified work based on the program and the current version is already under the GPL, so, unless a complete rewrite is done, the GPL license remains in effect.

That's the real curse of the GPL license IMO. It doesn't care who the author is and doesn't give any allowances for the author to change their mind and decide to use a different license for their work. It is a General Public License that has been designed to prevent someone from taking a program covered by the GPL and placing it under another license. That is its purpose.

corrupt
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However, only the copyright holders are empowered to act against violations...
http://www.gnu.org/l...-violation.html

Dewi Morgan
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Corrups: I disagree that authors cannot release their offering under multiple licences if they have released it already under GPL. I believe copyright law has priority. In fact, I was reading the FSF or Gnu site where they explicitly stated that in some cases they were willing to release stuff under a more lax license for people in a good cause. Damned if I can find the URL though.

No, the point is that if a product contains GPL stuff NOT written by the author, then the author cannot change the license... including to a more liberal license, or a nonlicense like public domain.

However, Chris wrote:

You can use exe2ahk to extract the plain text script from a compiled script if you provide the right password. This supports the fact that the interpreter and the script are two separate things rather than a derivative work.

I find that completely convincing, and am satisfied :) Am happy to distribute the source for the interpreter to anyone who asks, along with the GPL license. The script is separate and divisible.

Being able to change the script in the exe given the right password might make it 100% bullettproof, but still, I'm very happy as it is :)
Yet another hotkeyer.

corrupt
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No, the point is that if a product contains GPL stuff NOT written by the author, then the author cannot change the license... including to a more liberal license, or a nonlicense like public domain.

Check the AutoHotkey source code...

corrupt
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Corrups: I disagree that authors cannot release their offering under multiple licences if they have released it already under GPL.

It would break the GPL license but if there is only one Author (or all are in agreement) then I doubt that they would sue themselves...

Think of it this way though. The GPL was designed to ensure the freedom to use the code after it has been released under the GPL. What would happen if someone used this code to create another project then the author of the original code decided that they wanted to close the source and charge for it under a different license? Should the author of the new project be made to suffer? Therefore, once GPL, stuck GPL, by design. Something can't be given to the public then taken back that easily...

xx3nvyxx
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Assuming selling these as your own is against the GPL,
and assuming you get called in for violating that,
wouldn't it got to Chris to decide if he wants to prosecute?

(taken from http://www.gnu.org/l...-violation.html)

Once you have collected the details, you should send a precise report to the copyright holder of the packages that are being misused. The copyright holder is the one who is legally authorized to take action to enforce the license.

If the copyright holder is the Free Software Foundation, please send the report to . It's important that we be able to write back to you to get more information about the violation or product. So, if you use an anonymous remailer, please provide a return path of some sort. David Turner presently answers this address; GPG-encrypted mail may be sent to , encrypted to David Turner , GPG key id 33e3fe56.

Note that the GPL, and other copyleft licenses, are copyright licenses. This means that only the copyright holders are empowered to act against violations. The FSF acts on all GPL violations reported on FSF copyrighted code, and we offer assistance to any other copyright holder who wishes to do the same.

But, we cannot act on our own if we do not hold copyright. Thus, be sure to find out who the copyright holders of the software are before reporting a violation.


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How I hate the night.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
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How I hate the night.

Dewi Morgan
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IANIL, but:

Basically, it's covered by copyright law. The author has all rights to copy. He may decide if he wishes to grant a license to copy to other people: the GPL is one such license.

That license is an agreement between the author and the people to whom he offers the license.

At the same time, or perhaps in his next version, he may also offer it under other agreements (perl style copyleft, BSD, public domain, or even charging money for it). As the sole copyright holder he can do this at any time. Those users with whom he has the prior agreement are unaffected, though they may choose if they wish to move to the alternative license. That is, they may choose to end their agreement, and to start a new one.

This is equivalent to a patent license, where a patent holder has licensed one person to use his invention for free, and licensed another person to use it for money, perhaps giving more liberal rights to the person who paid.

Dual licensing is rather common, both in matters of copyright and patents. See the Perl licences: one is GPL, one is the "artistic license", which is infinitely better: http://www.perl.com/...c/Artistic.html - Also Sun's OpenOffice used to be dual licence until v2.x (now it's just under the non-viral LGPL). TrollTech releases their stuff under a commercial license, and also under the viral GPL. Mozilla uses an MPL/GPL/LGPL triple license.

So while something once GPLed will always stay so, derivative works done by the copyright owner can be un-GPLed any time, even into closed-source. I think the "please assign your copyright to the FSF as well" suggestion is a sneaky and evil way to prevent this.

Gnu is like Microsoft, or any other large holder of software copyrights: they're both special interest lobbies, and both have a "closed" license. Just Gnu's closed license lets you work to make Gnu's library of stuff bigger. As a programmer, I do not want to give my copyright to them, and I do not wish to be unable to place my code in the public domain. Gnu argues vehemently against PD works, but I find all their arguments unconvincing at best, and evil at worst.

In comparison, anything (images, code, documentation) produced by civilian and military employees of the US federal government is public domain by law. That means that their work benefits all the people of the world, not just what Gnu laughably calls the "Free World".

Gnu recently kicked up a fuss when a politician said (in a letter to the NY Times, I believe) that Gnu stuff should not be used in government work. They lobbied for the US government to use more Gnu stuff. That would prevent that code from being released under the public domain. So, as well as attacking proprietary code, they're attacking the US people's public domain rights, too, and trying to get all the US federal employees to make code for them instead.

Assuming selling these as your own is against the GPL, and assuming you get called in for violating that, wouldn't it got to Chris to decide if he wants to prosecute?


While Chris is the copyright holder, yes. Sadly, in this mixed-up world, nobody can guarantee that happy state will last forever. The next person after Chris to hold the copyright for his work may well be a misguided fool, who decides to give the copyright to the FSF. And the FSF does go after people who in their opinion violate their copyrights.

This is why I was happy to learn of exe2ahk - it means that our scripts and autohotkey's interpreter are only as bound together as two files in a zipfile. And so far as I know, that's a suitable defence against the GPL virus.
Yet another hotkeyer.

Chris
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Very informative post Dewi; especially:

So while something once GPLed will always stay so, derivative works done by the copyright owner can be un-GPLed any time, even into closed-source. I think the "please assign your copyright to the FSF as well" suggestion is a sneaky and evil way to prevent this.



Thalon
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Could someone shorten this to simple sentences?
I read all the posts, but I am quite not shure about what I read :oops:

So AHK is free to do everything I want?

Thalon

corrupt
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In short (feel free to correct... ;) ):

The license doesn't mean much unless the authors decide to enforce it. Keep in mind that this is not only Chris currently as AHK currently contains AutoIT code that Chris does not hold the copyright to AFAIK...

The GPL seems to allow you to sell a compiled script as long as the GPL is followed for the portion that includes AHK. In other words, your script is not automatically forced to be under the GPL AFAIK but the AHK portion of the .exe file is, so, the source to AHK and GPL license must be made available to users of your compiled script.

Also, if the copyright owners change and/or decide to change the license, close the source, charge money for it, etc... the GPL license still remains in effect if you choose to use it and abide by its terms and conditions. In other words, too bad for them it's still free for you if you still want to use the GPL license after it has been applied.

Dewi Morgan
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Chris wrote:

Very informative post Dewi; especially:

Yup - though sadly that passage doesn't apply to this case, where you're not the "sole copyright owner", so can't relicense without permission from the other copyright owners of the various components.

And while my post may be informative, it's also terribly opinionated and one-sided, too :P And I used lots of strongly emotive words like "evil" and "viral". That well represents my personal opinion, but people should do their own reading and make up their own minds.

After all, many people see Gnu/FSF as the best thing ever, I think because they see it as an alternative to proprietary code. I see it as a bad thing, but that's because I see it as an alternative to public domain code.

And Stallman, I think, sees PD and liberal licenses as a "gateway" to proprietary code. Historically, he has a point: MS have used BSD-licensed products, and modified them to be proprietary. It's just that, ethically, I think that MS (or anyone else) should be allowed to do that to any code I produce. Nobody's rights are infringed by MS doing that: people still are able to use the PD code if they wish. I think Stallman feels that proprietary code is intrinsically evil, and permitting it is very much against his morality.
Yet another hotkeyer.

xx3nvyxx
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The license doesn't mean much unless the authors decide to enforce it. Keep in mind that this is not only Chris currently as AHK currently contains AutoIT code that Chris does not hold the copyright to AFAIK...


I was wondering about that. How difficult would it be to rewrite that code? I would think that the ratio of new code to the AutoIT base justifies rewriting that portion to make it fully your own. Then, with the possible exception of things like the 'Random' command, the program would be yours to copyright as you would wish.
Now the world has gone to bed,
Darkness won't engulf my head,
I can see by infra-red,
How I hate the night.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
Try to count electric sheep,
Sweet dream wishes you can keep,
How I hate the night.

Chris
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How difficult would it be to rewrite that code? ... Then, with the possible exception of things like the 'Random' command, the program would be yours to copyright as you would wish.

It would probably take a solid 2 or 3 weeks to write and test replacement code for AutoHotkey.exe. It would take much longer if ahk2exe were to be done too.

This may happen someday (especially if license freedom becomes an issue), but for now it seems best to defer it so that the time can be spent on other improvements.