George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire is like an open source code (only with dragons). Just think about it, all original ideas belong to the author of the book, but the Game of Thrones showrunners used these ideas for a whole new project.
The GPL license works exactly the same way. You can do whatever you want with a software under this license. Plus, what the GPL lacks in dragons and nudity it overcompensates in freedom and convenience.
In the world of free licenses, the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) is considered to be the gold standard.
We at MonsterPost have read the whole of the license agreement (chances are we were the first humans to actually do this), and now we can explain it to you. To save you from the tedium, we will illustrate the whole thing with Game of Thrones gifs.
Disclaimer: This article contains dragons, Tyrion Lannister and SPOILERS from the sixth season of Game of Thrones. You have been warned!
1. Freedom to use a source product as you wish
“Free as in ‘freedom’” is the GPL’s version of “Winter is coming”. You’ll hear it a lot.
First of all, you can use a program under the GPL license as you wish, including sharing it with others. Yes, you can give your copy of a GPLed program to your friends, family, cats.
In fact, you can pass the software under the GPL to the whole world, like Yara Greyjoy passed her ships to Daenerys. Just make sure you’re making a good deal.
2. Freedom to change a source product
More importantly, the GPL grants you free access to the source code. Having all the trumps in your hand, you are allowed to change it any way you want.
Long story short, the GPL license allows creating a brand new product based on the original, with no permissions from a copyright holder needed.
In Game of Thrones language, you can modify the source code according to your liking as easily as Arya Stark switches her faces.
3. Freedom to share your version with others
You don’t just create your new modified product from the original source code, you totally can use it as you wish, no limits.
So, if you’ve changed something in an original product, you are free to pass your new version further and make some money out of it.
If the developers of a software project decide to use the GPL for it, their product will always stay as free as wildlings from beyond the wall.
4. Legal protection
GPL replaces all those boring old copyright laws with the “copyleft” term. It sounds cooler, too.
Copyleft means that all the freedoms listed are guaranteed legally with the only condition: if you create a product using someone else's GPL'd code your final product should also be licensed under the GPL.
No one can limit the freedom to modify and distribute a GPL-licensed software. And if they try.
Basically, tivoization means that some computers can run GPL'd software but don’t let you modify it or run modified versions. Awful, isn’t it? It’s like we’re in Slaver’s Bay all over again.
The team behind GPL tries to fight it. The GPL license obliges the platforms that use GPL software to allow installing all and any software under the GPL license. That way you can be sure that the GPL license protects your rights like dragons protect their mother Daenerys.
That's it. Next time you’ll need to read a license agreement just hit us up and we will explain it in five gifs. Now, go and watch your favorite Game of Thrones episode.