|When we say that Audacity is "free software", we mean three things:
Audacity is copyrighted and trademarked, and is licensed to you under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GPL). The license is long and somewhat complex, but the short version is that there are only three major things it forbids:
- claiming someone else's work as your own,
- distributing a modified version of the program as a binary-only work, without including source code, and
- trying to restrict those to whom you give it from then giving it to others.
Although we say above that "you don't have to pay for it", you may still find other people wanting to charge you for it. That's allowed under the GPL, too, again as long as they include the licence and offer the source code. Note if they modify the program they have to offer their modified code. This might well reduce the number of people trying to sell the program to you on the grounds of modifications they've made.
Our view of Audacity sellers is fairly tolerant. We encourage sellers to add value and include something like a video tutorial or a CD version, which we don't offer. But the reality is that we're all volunteers and the time to encourage "best practice" amongst sellers is limited.
There are many ways you can give something back to Audacity. Apart from donations, there are lots of non-financial ways you can contribute to our work. And if you want to modify or extend Audacity, see our Hacker's Guide, join our developer community, and let's exchange ideas.