Marjorie Larson larson at
Tue Nov 23 18:35:41 EST 1993

The following message was originally sent directly to the individual
who inquired on the grass user's list about the legalities of using 
GRASS code within a commercial package.  Since the information may be 
of wide interest, I will send the message on to the whole list.  However, 
I am making a strong disclaimer that I am NOT giving legal advice - I am 
simply sharing my understanding of what the issues (legal or otherwise)
are.  If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer.

Since GRASS is public domain code, it is my understanding that you are
able to freely use it - within certain constraints, which I understand
to be the following:

1. That the original authors of the code continue to be given
credit for its creation.

2. That the code not be sold for a profit.

If it is included as part of an overall marketable product, it can be 
sold as part of that product.  However, the overall price should reflect 
the TRUE value of the non-public domain pieces ONLY.  Any prices 
associated with the public domain code must be only for the costs
involved in integration, marketing, or tape/CD/document production
and mailing.

I believe the following is also legally true: if you take a piece of 
public domain code produced with government dollars and modify over a 
certain percent of it (not sure what percent), you can actually market 
it in its entirety as a commercial product.

I would personally add several words of caution as this approach
relates to GRASS:

a. What is distributed as GRASS contains software from many different 
sources, some produced by university or commercial personnel.  This 
could make any such attempts (i.e. described above) VERY sticky.

b. Some individual authors have copyright statements within their 
section of code - these should be looked at carefully.

c. Note that there are modules in our "src.related" subdirectory which 
are related products - we distribute them with GRASS, and some have been 
linked to GRASS, but they are not technically a part of GRASS.  Some were
developed with federal dollars, some have copyright statements.

I believe these are items that would need close attention before even
considering any attempt to create a fully commercial product.

Marji Larson                           U.S. Army CERL                  
email:   larson at   Environmental Division          
phone:   (217) 352-6511  ext 504       P.O. Box 9005                   
fax:     (217) 373-7222                Champaign, Ill. 61826-9005

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