I have an application I want to put my own license on. In order to get my application started, I wrestled with boilerplate code issues I was not able to find answers for online. When I tried launching a similar project licensed under the LGPL3.0 I was able to identify my issue as two mis-linked libraries. The unrestrictive documentation I had been using for my project was out of date and the aforementioned LGPL3.0 project had updated boilerplate linker flags.

The LGPL defines a modification as copying code. In the case of something like a linker flag I'm not sure there are alternative creative solutions that make sense. Can I cite the LGPL project in my work and keep closed the source of my own application? Or does this kind of issue fall under fair use? Or am I making a "modification" of the LGPL3.0 work?

1 Answer 1


Within copyright law, there is a distinction between idea and the expression of that idea. The idea itself is not subject to copyright protection, but only the expression is.

When an idea can only be expressed in one (or a very limited number) way, then the Merger doctrine states that the idea and the expression are one and the same and that the expression is not protected by copyright.

In this particular case of which linker flags to use to get the desired outcome, it seems to me that the number of ways in which the correct set of flags can be passed is limited enough that the Merger doctrine applies and the idea and expression are one.

If something is not protected by copyright, then it is also not possible to use a copyright license to dictate under what conditions and how it can be used.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.