I intend to release a software product (package) that shall include an executable (binary) that makes use of a library licensed under GPL v3. The executable is not linked (neither statically nor dynamically) to any other part of my software package. It shall run as an independent executable on the cutomer's target system. So my conclusion:

  1. Since this is a "derivate work", I will have to offer the source code of my additions and / or modifications to this derivative work under the same license (GPL v3) and to provide it on demand.
  2. The remainder of my software product is not "infected" in terms of "copyleft" and I am entitled to release it it under my own license conditions.
  3. There is no "crosstalk" ("infection") from the GPL v3 based component in my delivery package that would require me to release my whole software package under the GPL v3 license.

Can anyone please confirm if my assumptions are correct ? If not so, is there any chance to deliver derivate works on GPL v3 licensed libraries at all without taking the risk to be obliged to publicly release all my IPR by doing so ?

@madhatter: the gpl v3 software is linked to a chromium based browser as a fuctional extension. The browser will be launched by a shell script.

  • 1
    How does your software use the "independent executable"? Is it invoked via shell, ie fork-and-exec, and if so, what sort of arguments / data are passed when it's called? Is it invoked some other way?
    – MadHatter
    Mar 24, 2021 at 20:00
  • Hello Mr. Madhatter: the gpl v3 portion is linked to a chromium based browser as a functional extension and the browser itself will be started by a shell script.
    – uwe
    Mar 25, 2021 at 8:39
  • Then I agree with Bart.
    – MadHatter
    Mar 25, 2021 at 9:04

1 Answer 1


Your conclusions are correct, under the assumption that the communication between the GPL executable and the rest of your software package is "at arm's length". This effectively means that your software package must communicate with the GPL executable using communication channels that are typically used to communicate between independent applications and that you must not exchange complex data structures that would be specific to the GPL executable.

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.