There is software on GitHub which has with it the GPLv3 license file. Now, I am not going to mention which software to protect its devs from backlash. However...

The devs have mentioned that they do not wish to allow nonstable libraries from being loaded into their software, in a sense, locking it down.

Does this go against the GPL and the GPLv3? Will they need to switch to a new license to continue development?


1 Answer 1


This depends on exactly what they've said. If it's

We'd rather you didn't use non-stable libraries with this product. If you do this, we won't help you.

that's absolutely fine, and very similar to the position the Linux kernel community take with non-open source modules in the kernel. Even something like

We'd rather you didn't use non-stable libraries with this product. If you do this, we'll block your account on our forum and will never reinstate it.

is fine (legally anyway). They can make a modified version of the GPL which forbids this - but in that case it may not be called the "GNU General Public License" and it would be incompatible with the GPL itself, so they couldn't use any GPL code in their product.

What they can't do is something like:

You may not use non-stable libraries with this product. If you do this, you are in breach of the license and we will sue you.

or at the very least, such a term can be ignored in accordance with Section 7 of the GPL:

If the Program as you received it, or any part of it, contains a notice stating that it is governed by this License along with a term that is a further restriction, you may remove that term.

  • 9
    They are even free to implement technical checks that shut down the software if they detect libraries they don't like - but they can't stop the user from removing those checks. GPL says how users may modify software, not that the software has to work in any particular configuration.
    – vidarlo
    Jan 8, 2022 at 9:50
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    Absolutely - there are a ton of possibilities here, but I think the important distinction from a legal perspective still comes down to whether the statement is "please don't do this" or "you may not do this". Jan 8, 2022 at 10:02
  • What they can't do is ... - This is true for the software versions already published under GPL. However, for future versions, they may do it the way you already wrote it: Use a modified version of the GPL (as long as they don't use foreign GPL code in their product). Jan 8, 2022 at 13:38

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