Software piracy is the act of distributing software that one does not have the rights. For example, if I share a copy of Adobe Photoshop with you, then that’s obviously software piracy because I don’t have the rights to distribbute that software. Probably only Adobe does. I didn’t author it and I don’t own the copyrights to it.

What about software that was written and published specifically to be allowed to be copied, such as software published under the General Public License? The GPL specifically says that anyone can copy or redistribute the software:

if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must pass on to the recipients the same freedoms that you received. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.

It would seem clear as day that you therefore cannot pirate GPL software because anyone has the right to copy it. For most of the decades of involvement I’ve had in the Linux community this seemed well understood, but recently things are getting weird.


This community is for general discussion about building software, not necessarily just programming.

Created on Oct 17, 2020
By @root