Giftfile Project: About


The purpose of the Giftfile Project is to develop and oversee the giftfile system. This will include development of nonproprietary formats and protocols; development of free software reference implementations of the client, server, and related tools; and operation of the first giftpool.

This project is parented by Electronic Gift Economies, Inc., a nonprofit organization encouraging the creation, identification, use, and funding of nonproprietary creative works.

Giftfile System

The giftfile system is a specification for marking computer files containing nonproprietary creative works, and an infrastructure for allowing users of such works to make supporting donations.

The files are called giftfiles, and donations to them are accomplished by way of nonprofit organizations called giftpools. Users donate to a giftpool and are then given the privilege to allocate the giftpool's funds toward works of their choice, up to the donation amount. Giftpools aggregate the allocations to each giftfile, and will grant these funds to the producer of the giftfile upon request.

Only works dedicated to the public domain or under one of the supported licenses may be put into a giftfile. Furthermore, works of software must meet source code availability requirements by including the source in the giftfile and/or using one of the software-specific supported licenses.

Nonproprietary Creative Works

A nonproprietary creative work is a work of authorship such as music, literature, or computer software that may be used, copied, modified, and redistributed by anyone without charge. In other words, we are speaking of works from which the public has the freedom to benefit. Despite its wide meaning, the word benefit is appropriate here and we fully intend it to include such actions as:

These freedoms are often taken away by trademark, patent, or copyright. Unfortunately, determining if a work is proprietary or nonproprietary is not as simple as checking for the existence of such protections. In many cases, an author will chose to apply a protection, but then license the work under terms that remove most of the limitations. Several motives may exist for doing this, such as to guarantee attribution, express terms of warranty, or ensure that derived works are also nonproprietary. So in addition to unprotected works, we consider any work that is protected but licensed in terms granting freedom in the spirit described above as nonproprietary.

Moreover, this definition subscribes to the following maxims:

  1. Works in the public domain are nonproprietary
  2. Software works can be nonproprietary only if they include source code

Supported Licenses

The following licenses are supported for works contained within a giftfile according to the definition of nonproprietary creative works.

Before contacting us regarding this list of licenses, please read a word about licenses.


The process in which part of the output of a system is returned to its input in order to regulate further output is called feedback. Questions and comments may be directed to the mailing list.