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Class Free  view Free download

  extended bydocs.Free

public class Free
extends java.lang.Object

This is some notes on giving software - particularly Biblical software away freely.

Biblical Principles

Some references that are of note:

If people benefit from using your program, and if there are people that are not using it because they can't have it freely, then by charging for the program you are hindering the study of the Bible.

When Is It OK To Charge?

This does not mean that charging for anything is evil. We need to eat, and need money to buy food with. 2Th 3:10 - "if any would not work, neither should he eat." Now note that this reference is aimed at preventing lazyness, and I do not advocate lazyness, but it does make the point that getting paid for working is not wrong, And if your work is to do the work of God, then it is not wrong to be paid for it. The priests in the old testament were paid in donations for their work.
However few people's primary salary is for priestly/deconly duties.


  • How can you expect people to spend a long time on a great work of any kind, Biblical or otherwise, if there is no financial return.
    Truly great works are rarely created for financial gain - more often for the love of the work itself. The modern music industry is a good example. If you compare Mozart & Beethoven with the Spice Girls and Michael Jackson for the creation of truly great works, you would have to conclude that money is not necessary for great works, and may even hinder it.

Related Topics: The Law

What does the law say about copyright and free distribution? To oversimplify matters to the point of them being almost incorrect the law says that 70 years after the death of the author, the works become public domain, and free from copyright restrictions. There are many national and other variations though. Under US law, works created before 1923 are all copyright free.
Accurate Information :)

Related Topics: The Internet

Allowing free redistribution of software is becomming very common on the Internet. Companies like IBM, Netscape, AOL, SUN and Apple and many others all distribute software openly, without cost using the Internet.

There is much debate about why. Some people argue that is makes good economic sense (at this is the argument that swayed the companies listed above). Advocates of this philosophy rally under a banner entitled "Open Source". See
Another school of thought argues that preventing others from accessing software which would cost you nothing to distribute is morally wrong. Advocates of this philosophy rally under a banner entitled "Free Software". See The GNU project

Does Free Software Make Economic Sense?

The key difference between free software and free beer is that for me to give someone else some beer, costs me some beer. For me to give someone else some software does not cost me anything.

We could debate the cost of CD cases, or phone bills, but the central point is that if I wish to distribute software, I can do so by sticking it on an FTP site, at nigh zero cost to me. And done once - that is all of the costs for ever. So to distribure to 1000 is the same cost (~0) as to distribute to 1. Think of it like this:

  • A has a problem, can being a programmer, solves this by writing a bit of software. Problem solved. A is happy. It has cost A some time to develop the software, but it was worth it to solve the problem.
  • B has the same problem. B is not a programmer. Does A do a deal with B to distribute the software?
  • Since the cost to A of the deal is zero, any payment for the deal will be 100% profit. A could give the software away for no cost and not lose anything. B could be getting the software from A. What is it worth to B? Suppose that solving the problem will benefit B by X pounds. B will be willing to pay anything up to X pounds.
  • So any deal that involves B paying A between 0 and X pounds for the software will be profit for both of them. So what is the right level?
  • If there are lots of As - people that have solved the same problem then very quickly the price will tend to zero. In a buyers market, simple market forces will drive down prices until the vendors margins are small, and since the price is all profit, so the price tends to zero.
  • If there are lots of Bs - lots of people with a problem that needs solving then for a while B coulds make a huge profit, for zero effort. 2 things would prevent this from happening. The vendors market would turn into a buyers market very quickly, and B would become very unpopular. The only way that B can keep the stranglehold is to make customers buy something like brand image instead of software, obviously this can not be done honestly so you need to watch out the the US DoJ don't sue you if you take this path :)
  • So since a vendors market can not last for long, all software prices will tend to zero over time. The only way to maintain prices is to repeatedly invent new versions to counteract falling prices with greater problems solved. But the trend for all of this is to zero cost software.
  • This formulae works even if A was not a programmer and had to pay C to write the software for A. The only difference is that C's initial investment is money, where A's is time.


My understanding of the various licences goes like this:

Concept Notes GPL BSD SUN APL
Can fork Apple are (were?) saying that they were the source of the code, and that whilst others could take a look and modify it, they were bound to report the changes to Apple. IE you do my debugging for me. Y Y Y N
Can sell forks Do I want someone else to be able to make money from my code? Y Y N N
Viral Does this go too far and end up restricting authors. Does it prevent us from including code that is non-GPLed Y N N N


I agree with GPL/FSF/RMS for Biblical works "Freely Give ...". However I think RMS fails to take into account the cost/benefit equation of the person receiving the code so I'm not always in the GPL/FSF/RMS camp philosophically for non-Biblical works. Zero cost sharing does not make sharing a moral right.

Distribution Licence:
Project B is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2 as published by the Free Software Foundation.
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.
The License is available on the internet here, by writing to Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA, Or locally at the Licence link below.
The copyright to this program is held by it's authors.

Constructor Summary
Methods inherited from class java.lang.Object
clone, equals, finalize, getClass, hashCode, notify, notifyAll, toString, wait, wait, wait

Constructor Detail


public Free()