[svlug] a course on managing open source...

Karsten M. Self kmself at ix.netcom.com
Fri Jul 15 15:18:49 PDT 2005

on Thu, Jul 14, 2005 at 10:42:15PM -0700, Karen Shaeffer (shaeffer at neuralscape.com) wrote:
> On Thu, Jul 14, 2005 at 10:13:47PM -0700, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> > 
> > There is the odd well-used project with an odd (but liberal) license, of
> > which vim is the most prominant example I can think of (quick:  what
> > *is* vim's license?).  But complex, organization-specific licenses tend
> > not to result in popular projects.
> Hello Karsten,
> vim license is freeware.

"Freeware" isn't a term with any legally significant definition.  It's
common usage is to describe software which can be used without charge.
This may or may not include the right to redistribute the software.  My
own experience in tracking down rights suggests that this very often
*isn't* the case.  In practice it can apply to anything from works
"released to the public domain" to free demo versions of proprietary

"Freeware" is often used to encompass the licensing models better
described as FSF Free Software (as defined by the Free Software
Foundation) and OSI Open Source (as defined by the Open Source
Initiative), though most people close to the communities defined by both
eschew the term strongly.

Vim has long included a statement that it is "charityware" -- you're
encouraged to make a donation to needy children in Uganda.  This is a
non-binding requirement.

Vim's license is probably best described as "GPL-like".  While the
langauge and structure of the license are not particularly similar to
the GPL, the ultimate results are, and generally require source
disclosure obligations of both the original work and (for modified
distributions) any modifications.  The source disclosure obligations are
similar to those of the GNU GPL.

Section 2(e) allows distribution of Vim under the GNU GPL v2 or later,
making Vim effectively dual-licensed (or dual-licensable) under the Vim
license and the GNU GPL.


Karsten M. Self <kmself at ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Got good and drunk the night before, so I looked and felt my best when I
    went in that morning, 'cause I wanted to look like the All-American Kid
    from New York City.
    - A. Guthrie
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