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I am developing a commercial application. There are several GPL programs which have some common features with my applications. Can I take an idea from those GPL applications and implement them myself without copying the code. Does this violate GPL.

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if the code is open, the idea would be too. did you read the license text? does it say anything otherwise? is it a standard text? –  tgkprog Apr 27 '13 at 12:33
    
@tgkprog The line which says about writing the same code in a different language, caused a bit confusion, if I peek through the code and then write everything from scratch, will it violate GPL making sure the codes are as different as possible. –  adnan kamili Apr 27 '13 at 16:49
    
Taking an idea does not violate anyone's copyright, however if you copy the code, even if you then modify it, you will need to abide by the license under which the code is published. I don't think you'll get a good answer to your question unless you expand it to explain what you are trying to do. For example, why are you unwilling to license your work under the GPL? –  Dominic Cronin Apr 27 '13 at 19:51
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Short answer: Ideas, yes. Source code, no.

The source code is protected by copyright and the license only allows you to use the source code if you license the result as GPL. This doesn't block you from selling the result, but requires you to provide the source code to anyone you have sold the application to (and stops you from barring them passing the source or app on).

The ideas should be OK, as long as they're not otherwise protected (patents, essentially). There may be patents that allow an automatic license only for open source.

As always, please consult with a lawyer before taking legal advice from the internet. I am not one, so this is pure layman advice.

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you mean finance apps that use open src or any other company application like face book or win amp - > has to make their complete source core as open cause they use open source + their own ? –  tgkprog Apr 27 '13 at 17:10
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@tgkprog No, there are permissive open source licenses that don't require that. The question is about the GPL though, which is a "viral" license. –  Brian Marshall Apr 27 '13 at 19:45
    
haha nice history there. A cancer if you allow it ! –  tgkprog Apr 27 '13 at 21:55
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