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  4. <title>Licensing FAQ - FSFE Legal</title>
  5. <link rel="stylesheet" media="all" href="/style/grid.css" type="text/css" />
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  8. <body>
  9. <p id="category"><a href="/activities/ftf/ftf.html">Legal</a></p>
  10. <h2>What is software licensing?</h2>
  11. <p>Software licences tell people how the rights holder (usually the author)
  12. wants the software to be used and what freedoms or restrictions it has.
  13. Without a licence, many uses of the software may be prohibited.</p>
  14. <p>Free Software licenses are licenses that give permission for a user to
  15. obtain <a href="/documents/freesoftware.html">four important freedoms</a>;
  16. the freedom to use, modify, share and
  17. improve software. Copyleft licenses are Free Software licences that
  18. allow the four fundamental freedoms under the condition that those
  19. freedoms remain intact in further distribution of the software or
  20. derivative works.</p>
  21. <p>The <a href="http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl.html">GNU GPL</a> is the most
  22. famous Free Software copyleft license and is
  23. used by a large percentage of Free Software projects. It has many
  24. useful features, like ensuring the four freedoms and providing a limited
  25. warranty and disclaimer of liability clause to protect developers
  26. releasing their work to the public.</p>
  27. <p>There are many <a href="http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/">Free Software licenses</a>,
  28. some without any copyleft effect.
  29. Some of these are compatible with the GNU GPL, some have special
  30. provisions that enable compatibility, some are incompatible.</p>
  31. <p>If people use the same licence or at least compatible licences then
  32. projects can exchange code freely. We encourage everyone to use the
  33. GNU GPL for all software.</p>
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