I am writing a filter -- an external program which takes input from the main executable, parses it, potentially modifies it, and outputs the modified data -- for the GPLv2-licensed Pandoc.

My filter is MIT-licensed.

Pandoc itself has a set of files used for automated tests. I would like to use the same files to test the filter.

The simplest option would be to copy the test files from the Pandoc repository to my own repository, where they can be used by the CI server. These files aren't intended to be executed in themselves, and aren't used in "normal" execution, but only when building a new version.

  1. Is this a violation of the terms of GPLv2, because my filter isn't GPLv2-licensed?
  2. Does my filter's having an MIT-license make it better?

(I've seen Implications of using GPL licenced code only during testing, but in my case I'm not just using a GPLv2 library during testing, but copying actual test source into my own project.)

1 Answer 1


As I understand it, you choose these files because they they contain the characteristics you want to test against and they are conveniently already available. But otherwise, you could use any file at all (with the right characteristics) in your test.

That is an indication that those files are just input data for your filter and that your filter does not derive from them in the copyright sense. That means that your filter and those test files are independent works for copyright purposes and that their licenses do not affect each other.

As long as you make it clear that those test files are under the GPLv2 license and you comply with all GPLv2 requirements with regard to the test files, you are fine. You are completely free in your choice of license for your filter application.

  • Is the inclusion of these files in my GitHub repo itself a form of distribution?
    – Zev Spitz
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 17:47
  • 2
    @ZevSpitz, If others can access your repo, then it is a form of distribution. If your repo is entirely private (accessible only to yourself), then not. Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 17:57

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