Newcomers to the free-software world are often confused by the variety of licensing terms attached to free software. Some free-software devotees twist normal words into jargon and then expect you to understand every nuance they have attached to each piece of jargon.
To write and distribute software that runs on a free platform such as Linux, you must understand licenses and copyright. These matters are regularly confused by intelligent and informed people, free-software devotees among them. Whether you intend to write free or commercial software, you will be working with tools that come with a variety of license terms. A general understanding of the field of copyright and licensing will help you to avoid common errors.
In these litigious times, it is vitally important that we warn you that we are not lawyers. This chapter reflects our understanding of the matters that we discuss, but it does not offer legal advice. Before you make any decisions regarding your own or anyone else's intellectual property, you should study the subject further and, unless you think it unnecessary, consult an attorney.