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Sun Apr 20 16:30:12 2014

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Actually it is not illegal to sell Free Software, but it can be bad form

We (the QGIS PSC) had a nice message from a QGIS user today:   I’m a GIS user located in the U.S. and I recently received an email offering several FREE GIS softwares for the low price of $785. I’m not sure how I got on the email list, but it really made me angry that someone... Read more »

Actually it is not illegal to sell Free Software, but it can be bad form

We (the QGIS PSC) had a nice message from a QGIS user today:

I’m a GIS user located in the U.S. and I recently received an email offering several FREE GIS softwares for the low price of $785. I’m not sure how I got on the email list, but it really made me angry that someone was selling these great FREE programs. I’m not sure if there are any legal actions that could prevent someone from doing this, but I do want to get the word out, which is why I am contacting your team.

The GIS Bundle - 6 GIS Applications for $785. <web site url>

Please forward this information on to anyone that you think it may concern.

Thank you for your time and efforts,

[Name Redacted]

We took a look at the site in question - here is what it looks like:

image0

I haven't included any hyperlinks to their site here because I don't want to drive traffic to it - but if you are really curious, you can lift the URL from the above screenshot and take a look (but please be sensible before you click that buy button!).

It is something of a tradition in FOSS that the software is provided at no cost and you pay (if you want to) for the support services that companies provide around this software. But nothing in e.g. the GPL precludes you from selling shrink wrapped copies of the software as long as you comply with the license and make the source code available along with any modifications you may have made. The intrepid entrepreneur in this case seems to be doing just that (though I haven't USD 785 to shell our to confirm this). As Gary Sherman (QGIS founder) replied to the original poster:

They are within their rights---it's been happening in open source for years (e.g. RedHat, SuSE, etc.). In the case of Linux distributions, they actually do some work to create the distribution and bring together a wide array of packages into a cohesive system.

There is nothing to be done about it, except maybe stepping up our marketing program to let people know they can get the goods for free :)

I would urge folks out there who have $785 lying around that they don't know what to do with to rather donate it to their favourite project and grab your copy of the software for free rather than supporting someone who is on the surface giving nothing back to the community.

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