Selling GIMP

Introduction

From time to time, we get questions from users who are surprised to see some individuals or companies selling GIMP from their web site or as part of an auction. Sometimes the software is advertised as being GIMP but in some cases there is no mention of the fact that what is sold is GIMP, and GIMP is Free Software. This page tries to answer some of these questions and provides suggestions for those who would like to sell GIMP.

Yes. The terms and conditions for copying, distribution and modification of GIMP are clearly listed in the GNU General Public License. Redistribution for free or for profit is specifically allowed, as long as the license is included and the source code is made available. See also Selling Free Software on the FSF site.

Besides the rights and conditions given by the GPL, it would also be nice (but not required) to mention in any advertising that the product being sold is GIMP (or a bundle including GIMP) or is derived from it.

Can it sometimes be illegal?

We are no lawyers, but there are clearly some cases where vendors are bordering on illegality (sometimes even clearly illegal). We encountered many such cases across the years. If you do too, you would be right to contact the vendor first. Maybe they didn’t do it maliciously and will be happy to comply swiftly.

If the vendors do not react positively, contacting the selling platform might be the next right step. Unfortunately some platforms are happy to ignore their customers, but if enough people complain, they may react.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of problematic cases:

  • Per the license, the vendor must keep the license, include it with the copies and display appropriate copyright notices in a conspicuous manner. See sections 4. and 5. of the GNU General Public License.
  • Per the license, the vendor must provide the source code (original or modified one depending on whether it is a verbatim or modified copy of GIMP). See section 6. of the GNU General Public License.
  • Our logo/mascot, Wilber, also has a license and author which must be respected if the image is reused and/or modified. In particular, the current version is licensed as Creative Commons by-sa 3.0, so the original author must be given credit in all distributions and any modified version must be in the same license.
  • Regardless of any license, third party vendors should not pretend to be the core GIMP team or to be mandated by us. If they do, this is impersonation of other people, which is illegal in most countries. In the best case, they should honestly display that they are packaging a software developed by others with a link to gimp.org. Often though, many vendors remain vague, which is not illegal, though clearly not the most good faith approach.
  • If any modification of the software is itself illegal or unsafe, it could be a cause for taking it down. For instance, we saw some vendors providing GIMP with modified heinous texts and on remote servers with no secure separation between various people’s documents (which raise privacy and data safety concerns).

Are the developers associated with companies selling GIMP?

No. The GIMP developers are not associated with the companies selling copies of GIMP. We may be in contact with some of them from time to time when they contribute some improvements to GIMP. Some of them have also made donations to the GIMP developers (sponsoring for the GIMP developers’ conference). But none of the developers has direct financial interest in these companies.

I bought GIMP without knowing that it was Free Software and available free-of-charge

Unfortunately, some companies selling GIMP do not always mention in their advertising the origin of this software. In particular, they don’t mention the licensing or that the software that they are selling can also be obtained for free. Sometimes GIMP is combined with additional software or artwork that adds value to the package, but sometimes what you get is not much more than what could otherwise be downloaded for free. If you have purchased such a copy of GIMP and you feel cheated, then you should complain to the vendor.

However, if the vendor did not make the complete corresponding source code for their version of GIMP available to you as required by the GPL, then the vendor may have violated the license and may be liable for copyright infringment. Please try to clarify the situation with the vendor before reporting any GPL violation to the GIMP developers. In any case, you should refrain from making public statements about the potential GPL violation before you have contacted the vendor. Notifying the developers too early of making public statements about the potential GPL violation may limit the legal options available to the developers (copyright owners).

Where can I buy a copy of GIMP?

We do not sell GIMP from this web site. We provide it free-of-charge on our download page for several platforms. Other platforms for which we don’t create builds often have their own distribution methods with their third-party GIMP package.

If you believe our work deserves to be funded, we welcome donations. This helps us improving GIMP further and is our alternative to “buying” the program.

Recommendations for those who sell copies of GIMP

If you or your company intend to sell GIMP, it would be nice to follow these guidelines:

  1. Be honest. Do not try to hide the fact that the product that you are selling is or contains GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program). Mention it in any advertisement. Also state explicitly that GIMP is developed by other people, ideally with a link to our website gimp.org.
  2. Add value. Try to provide more than what can be found in the default GIMP package. Include a nice installer, additional plug-ins, some nice artwork, some custom brushes and textures, your own tutorials and documentation, printed copies of the documentation, etc. There are many ways to add value to GIMP and to make your customers happy.
  3. Respect the GPL. The GPL requires you to make the source code available. The best solution is to include the source code on the same medium as the GIMP installation package, but you can also include a written offer to supply the source code on request. Note that you cannot simply give a link to the GIMP ftp mirrors: it should be the exact source code that was used to compile the binary package that you are selling and you have to cover the costs of redistribution yourself. If you sell and distribute the binaries online, the GPL requires you to make the source code available “from the same place” so giving a link to the GIMP mirrors is not sufficient (see also this section of the GPL FAQ).
  4. Support your users. If the version of GIMP that you are selling is modified in any way, you should inform your users and try to handle the support requests related to that version. Providing good support is another way to make your customers happy.

Finally, think about giving something back. If the software created by many volunteers helps your business, it would be nice to return the favor by helping the developers. You can contribute by sending some improvements to the code or by sponsoring some events such as the GIMP developer’s conference. This is not required, but happy developers are more likely to create a better product that you can sell later…