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German Free Software License
(c) Ministry of Science and Research, State of
North-Rhine Westphalia 2004
Developed and created by Axel Metzger and Till
Jaeger, Institut f�r Rechtsfragen der Freien und
Open Source Software (Institute for Legal Issues
On Free and Open Source Software),
Software is more than a mere economic asset. It
is the technical foundation of the information
society. Therefore, the issue of the public share
in software is of particular importance.
Conventionally licensed computer programs are
distributed in object code form only, and the
user is not entitled to modify or pass on the
program to third parties. The license model for
Free Software (synonym "Open Source Software"),
however, grants comprehensive rights in the
handling of the program. The German Free Software
License is based on this license model. It gives
you the right to use the program in a
comprehensive manner. You are allowed to modify
the computer program according to your
requirements or to reproduce or distribute it and
make it publicly available in a modified or
unmodified form. These rights are granted free of
However, the German Free Software License
combines these rights with certain obligations
that will ensure the free circulation of the
program and all further developments published.
If you distribute the program or make it publicly
available, you have to include a copy of this
license to anyone receiving the program from you
and enable access to its source code. Another
obligation arises from further developments of
the program. Modifications to the program which
you distribute or make publicly available shall
be released in accordance with the conditions of
this license.
German Free Software License takes into account
the special requirements of German and European
law. It is drafted bilingually and thus intended
for international distribution.
Section 0 Definitions
Documentation: Description of composition,
architecture and/or structure of the programming
process and/or functionalities of the program,
irrespective of whether they were done in the
Source Code or separately.
License: The agreement concluded between the
licensor and you, with the content of the German
Free Software License and/or the pertaining
Licensee: Every natural or legal entity who has
accepted this License.
Program: Every computer program which has been
distributed or made publicly available by the
entitled person in accordance with the terms of
this License.
Object Code: The machine-readable form of the
Public/publicly: Not solely directed towards a
certain group of people who have a personal
connection to each other or are associated
through their affiliation with a legal person or
public organisation.
Making Publicly Available: The public
distribution of the Program in an immaterial
form, in particular, by making it available for
download in data networks.
Entitled Person(s): The author(s) or other
holders of the exclusive right to use for the
Source Code: The form of the Program represented
in programming language and readable for humans.
Modification: Any extension, shortening and/or
alteration of the Program, including, but not
limited to further developments.
Distribution: The public passing on of material
copies to third parties, in particular, onto
storage devices or in connection with hardware.
Complete Source Code: The Source Code in the form
used for preparation and/or modification together
with the configuration files and software tools
required for compilation and installation,
provided that these are not commonly used in the
required form (e.g. standard compiler) or can be
downloaded by any Internet user without license
Section 1 Rights
(1) You may reproduce and distribute the Program
and make it publicly available in an unmodified
(2) You may modify the Program and reproduce and
distribute modified versions and make them
publicly available. It is also permitted to
combine the Program or parts thereof with other
(3) You obtain the rights free of charge.
Section 2 Obligations for Distribution and Making
Publicly Available
(1) If you distribute the Program or make it
publicly available, be it in unmodified or
modified form, be it in combination with other
programs or in connection with hardware, you also
have to provide or include the following:
1. all references to this License in the Source
Code and/or Object Code;
2. all references in the Source Code and/or
Object Code containing information about the
author of the Program;
3. a conspicuous reference to this License and
the Internet address <>, to
be displayed in a form that can easily be read by
the recipient;
4. the complete text of this License in a form
easy to perceive.
(2) If license and/or contract terms are
displayed when the Program is installed and/or
started, the following items must also be
1. this License;
2. a reference to this License; and
3. a reference to the Entitled Person(s) to the
initial program components used under this
(3) You may not make the use of the Program
contingent upon the compliance with conditions or
obligations that are not set forth in this
(4) Provided that you have received Documentation
for the Program, you have to deliver this
Documentation with the Program, as well, unless
free delivery of the Documentation is not
permitted by the documentation license.
Section 3 Further Obligations regarding the
Distribution of Modified Versions
(1) You may only distribute modified versions of
the Program or make them publicly available in
accordance with the terms of this License, so
that any third party is able to make use of the
modified Program as a whole under this License.
(2) If the Program or a part thereof is combined
with another program, this also applies to the
entire combination as a modified version of the
Program, unless the other program is independent
in terms of form and content. Another program
shall be regarded as independent if it fulfils
the following requirements:
1. The Source Code of the combined programs must
be contained in separate files which do not
include components of the other part except for
parts containing the information customary and
required for the Program combination. The Source
Code of the other program does not have to be
2. The part which is combined with the Program
must also be reasonably usable when not combined
with the Program, i.e. on a standalone basis or
with other programs. The meaning of "reasonably
usable" will be based on the opinion of pertinent
circles of expert groups in the relevant field.
Such circles of experts include everyone who
develops, uses, distributes or makes publicly
available the Program concerned or programs with
similar functionality.
(3) If you distribute or make publicly available
the Program or parts thereof - modified or
unmodified - in combination with another program
licensed under the GNU General Public License
(GPL), the Program may also be used under
conditions of the GPL, provided it constitutes a
"derivative work" together with the other program
in the sense of the GPL. In this case, any
reference to this License should be removed and
replaced by a reference to the GPL. Whether a
"derivative work" in the sense of the GPL arises
from this combination is primarily defined in
section 2 b) of the GPL. This provision reads:
"You must cause any work that you distribute or
publish, that in whole or in part contains or is
derived from the Program or any part thereof, to
be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
parties under the terms of this License." The GPL
can be obtained under
(4) If you distribute the Program or make it
publicly available in a modified form, you must
include a reference to the modifications and the
date of the modification in the Source Code. This
reference must reveal which modifications were
carried out and include existing references
containing information on the author of the
Program. This applies to whether or not you add
your own copyright notice. Instead of a reference
in the Source Code you may also use or carry on a
version control system, provided this is also
distributed or made publicly available.
(5) You may not charge any third party for the
granting of the non-exclusive rights of use for
the Program.
(6) If you acquire any other intellectual or
industrial property right to this Program apart
from a copyright, in particular a patent or
utility model, you license this intellectual or
industrial property right for modified or
unmodified versions of the Program to the extent
that is necessary to make due use of the rights
arising from this License.
Section 4 Further Obligations for the
Distribution of the Object Code
(1) If you distribute the Program in Object Code
form only, apart from the obligations defined in
Sections 2 and 3, you have to either:
1. make the Complete Source Code publicly
available in the Internet and - when distributing
the Object Code - make a clear reference to the
complete Internet address from which the Source
Code can be downloaded; or
2. distribute the Complete Source Code on a
customary data carrier, taking into consideration
Sections 2 and 3.
(2) If you make the Program publicly available in
Object Code form, apart from the obligations
defined in Sections 2 and 3 you must also make
the Complete Source Code publicly available in
the Internet and make a clear reference to the
complete Internet address.
(3) Provided that you have received the
Documentation for the Program, you have to
deliver this Documentation together with the
Program in accordance with Subsections 1 and 2,
as well, unless free delivery of the
Documentation is not permitted by the
documentation license.
Section 5 Conclusion of the Contract
(1) With this License you and any other person
are offered the conclusion of a contract for the
use of this Program under the conditions of this
(2) You may use the Program in accordance with
the applicable statutory provisions for the
intended purpose without having to accept this
License. In the European Union and in most other
legal systems, this right in particular includes
the following authorizations:
1. Running of the Program as well as reproducing
on hard-drive and RAM required for this;
2. Making of a back-up copy;
3. Correcting errors;
4. Distributing a lawfully acquired physical copy
of the Program.
(3) You declare your acceptance of this License
by distributing the Program, making it publicly
available, modifying or reproducing it in a way
that goes beyond the intended use in the sense of
Subsection 2. From this time on, this License
shall be deemed as a legally binding agreement
between the Entitled Persons and you, without the
need for the Entitled Persons to obtain a
declaration of acceptance.
(4) You and any other licensee acquire the rights
arising from this License directly from the
Entitled Persons. Any sub-licensing or transfer
of rights is not permitted.
Section 6 Termination of Rights in the Event of
(1) Any violation of your obligations under this
License automatically leads to the termination of
your rights under this License.
(2) Any rights of third parties having obtained
the Program or rights to the Program from you
shall remain unaffected.
Section 7 Liability and Warranty
(1) The Entitled Persons are only liable for
conflicting third-party rights if they were aware
of such rights without informing you.
(2) Liability for errors and/or other defects in
the Program shall be governed by agreements
concluded between you and the Entitled Person
beyond the scope of this License or, if no such
agreement exists, by the pertinent statutory
Section 8 Agreements with Third Parties
(1) This License only governs the relationship
between you and the Entitled Persons. It is not
part of agreements between you and third parties.
(2) This License does not limit your freedom to
conclude agreements of any content whatsoever
with third parties obtaining copies of the
Program from you or purchasing services from you
in connection with the Program, provided that you
fulfil your obligations under this License and
third-party rights under this License are not
infringed. In particular, you may charge a fee as
consideration for the transfer of the Program or
other services.
(3) This License does not commit you to forward
the Program to a third party. You are free to
decide to whom you wish to make the Program
available. However, you may not prevent or
complicate further use by third parties through
the use of technical protective measures, in
particular, the use of copy protection of any
kind. Password-protected access restriction or
use in an Intranet shall not be regarded as
technical protective measures.
Section 9 Text of the License
(1) This License is written in German and
English. Both versions are equally binding. It is
assumed that terminology used in the License has
the same meaning in both versions. Should,
however, differences arise, such meaning is
authoritative which best brings into line both
versions, taking into consideration the aim and
purpose of the License.
(2) The license board of the German Free Software
License may put into force binding new versions
of this License inasmuch as this is required and
reasonable. New versions of the License will be
published on the Internet site <http://www.d-> with a unique version number. The new
version of the License becomes binding for you as
soon as you become aware of its publication.
Legal remedies against the modification of the
License are not restricted by the regulations
described above.
(3) You may reproduce and distribute this License
and make it publicly available in an unmodified
Section 10 Applicable Law
The License is governed by German law.
Appendix: How to submit a Program to the German
Free Software License.
In order to make it possible for anyone to
conclude this License, it is recommended to
include the following reference to the License in
the Program:
"Copyright (C) 20[yy] [Name of the Entitled
This Program may be used by anyone in accordance
with the terms of the German Free Software
The License may be obtained under <http://www.d->."