Welcome to GratuityWare.org!

Hi there, and welcome to GratuityWare.org, home of GratuityWareTM[1] Software. While I'm sure I'm not the first person to have this concept, I seem[2] to be the first to actually coin the term, and I thought I'd make a go at promoting it. This page is still in its infancy... so for now, I'll provide answers to a few would-be-FAQ's (nobody's asked but me, as of this writing... because nobody knows about this page as I'm writing it. ;-)

What is GratuityWareTM software?

"What is this GratuityWare stuff?" you may be asking yourself... In short, GratuityWare is a concept wherein software (or other things) gets distributed in a "free" way (with the implications of that word on both money and liberty), but the author/maintainer of the software (or whatever) has hopes for getting something in return for it as well. The return that comes up is from folks who decide, entirely at their option, to give a "gratuity" back to the author/maintainer. I feel like I can explain this a little bit better by breaking it down into a list of attributes that do and do not apply here, so here's a brief list of what GratuityWare is and what it is not.

GratuityWare is:

GratuityWare is not:

Why does GratuityWare exist?

The GratuityWareTM concept is one which I came up (though see the first paragraph above) with as a way to solve the "problem" (or at least dilemma) of wanting software to be free, in both the liberty and monetary senses of the word, but also wanting to be able to get money (because of its status in todays society as a universal medium for exchange) for software that I write[8], and also to be able to provide a form of thanks to those who have written software that I use.

See, the thing for me is this: I'm a big believer in having things be free, but then giving a gratuity if I like something.

What GratuityWareTM software is out there now?

Currently, none. I expect this to be changing soon, though, as I have a piece of software that I'm writing which I expect to release as GratuityWare as soon as it's just a little further along.

OK, so is there currently any GratuityWare that isn't software?

Yes. A little. This page is provided as GratuityWare. ;-)

What's a Gratuity, exactly?

My definition (I'd use somebody else's, but the on-line dictionary that I normally use seems to not be OK with quoting them without explicit prior consent, which they don't seem to give out to the world under a published "terms of use" policy... *sigh*) of the word gratuity is this:

A gift (usually but not necessarily of money) given by one person or organization to another person or organization on a purely voluntary basis, usually as an expression of the gratitude that the giver has for some product or service previously rendered to the them by the recipient of the gratuity.

In other words, it is: a way to say thanks; not required, though it can be requested (and in the case of GratuityWare, it always will be, though perhaps only implicitly); of a form and/or amount which is determined by the giver, though a recommendation or specific request can be made by the potential recipient.

For example, if I wrote some piece of software, I might make it freely available, but in the documentation (possibly including within the UI for the application, if relevant) somewhere(s), I might put a request for people to send me $10 if they were making use of it. Now, that request would be somewhere that wasn't in a particularly annoying spot -- i.e. it wouldn't interfere with the user's ability to use the software, and it wouldn't go away, even if the user had made the donation; With GratuityWare, there's no such thing as a "registered" or "unregistered" version of the software -- though that's not to say that there can't be a facility for a user to be registered as a user of the software (it also doesn't (and couldn't, if my understanding of copyright laws is accurate) preclude the original copyright owner from also releasing a different version of the software, without the same notification of being GratuityWare, some of their users -- but that version would (presumably) not be GratuityWare). And someone who was using the software, if they decided they did in fact want to make a contribution, could make a contribution in the amount of $10, as requested, or in some other monetary amount, either higher or lower than $10, it's their choice, or perhaps even in some other way, such as providing me with some item or service that I've expressed interest in.

As another example, I know of some folks who have distributed software that they had written as "PostcardWare", in which they request a postcard from satisfied users. I believe that PostcardWare is, or at least can be if certain requirements are met, compatible with GratuityWare -- I.e. there could be GratuityWare in which the "requested"/"suggested" gratuity is a postcard, instead of money.

How can I release my software as GratuityWare?

Unless you're me... right now, there's no documented procedure for doing this, so please don't use the name without my prior permission. However, I do very much expect this state of affairs to change, hopefully in the relatively near future. In the mean time, do feel free to contact me if you'd like to use the GratuityWare name, and/or to help out with making this easier in the future (see also, the next item).

Wow, this is cool... How can I help?

The main way you can help is by making a monetary donation to me (yes, that's right, to me -- there's currently no company or other formal organization behind GratuityWare, it's just me, David Lindes -- that may or may not change in the future). Right now, the easiest way for you to do that (or at least the easiest way for me to facilitate you doing so ;-) is to use PayPal, by clicking on the button below. The amount is left blank, and that's intentional... Give $1... or $1,000,000,000... or anywhere in between (this last choice is what's recommended for most people, but I'm being intentionally vague about the details).

Another way you can help is to talk to me about making your own software GratuityWare... See above for information on that.

A third way you might help -- which is perhaps (for now) the biggest help, but which I suspect will be accessible to the smallest number of people -- would be by donating some serious legal resources... Either donating your time if you're a J.D., or by hiring (talk to me before doing this!) a lawyer for me. There are a number of legal issues which I expect I'll want help figuring out the details of, including things about trademark law, assistance in writing a license (or perhaps several different licenses) that people could use (at least one of) to make their software be GratuityWare, and at least one or two others. So, if you're able and willing to give significant help in this arena, please contact me about doing so... but making monetary donations also works, as it (eventually/potentially/whatever) allows me to hire my own legal help.

A final way is simply to lend your moral support, either by contacting me and saying something about it, or by telling others about GratuityWare, or the like.


  1. GratuityWare is a trademark of David Lindes. No, it's not a registered trademark. No, I don't intend on preventing other people from using the name in general, but; Yes, I do intend to try to prevent people from using it without following certain guidelines. No, I haven't established those guidelines yet. If you're interested in using the trademark, or you think that you have a claim to it that predates my own claim (starting 2001-03-25), please send me some e-mail about it.
  2. This belief is based on a quick web search.
  3. GratuityWare is not required to be Free Software as defined[5] by the folks at the Free Software Foundation (FSF), but it is strongly encouraged that GratuityWare developers make their software free in that sense, and it is required that something bearing the GratuityWareTM label be obtainable (even if only in compiled form), without charge for the software.
  4. What's that, Free Software and for profit? How can that be? In short, yes. For a longer answer, I'll once again defer[5] to the folks at the FSF to explain that one.
  5. I defer to the FSF for now, because they've put a lot of good work towards making their philosophy publicly known and understood. I may, in time, come up with my own documentation more specifically targeting the GratuityWareTM[6] concept. If and when that happens, the links to the FSF will either be replaced or supplemented with those definitions. (Also, if for any reason someone at the FSF has a complaint[7] about me linking to them in the way I am here, I will do my very best to make whatever changes are found necessary to alleviate that complaint... FSF folks, just let me know.)
  6. OK, I'll give... In case any of you have been wondering why I sometimes signify a trademark and sometimes don't, it's because of my understanding (which is admittedly not backed by any legal counsel or degree, at least at this point in time) of how Trademark law works... In particular, I understand (caveat lector) that trademarks must be usable as adjectives. As such, whenever I've used the term "GratuityWare" in such a way as to be an adjective, I've placed (or at least I meant to) the trademark symbol there. In places where it's used in other ways, I have not. If my understanding is correct, this is consistent with "proper" actions towards protection of ones trademark(s). In the future, I'll probably get some legal advice in this area, and at that time, depending on that advice, I may change my behaviors in this regard.
  7. I have no reason to believe that the FSF would have such a complaint, but since I haven't actually asked them, I thought it the polite thing to do to make it explicitly known that I am interested in being neighborly with them.
  8. Two things: First, I'm talking about stuff that I've written on my own time, using my own resources, not "works for hire" that I do for an employer. Second, I'm using the words "write" and "written" to include not only primary authorship, but also contributions to a group effort.

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