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As far as I know, you are not required to agree to the GPL to make personal use of GPL-licensed software. You are only required to agree to the GPL to redistribute the software. The GPL prohibits distributors that have licensed the software under the GPL from imposing additional restrictions on the software. Forcing users to agree to the GPL to make personal use of GPL-licensed software could be seen as imposing an additional restriction.

However, some software installers require agreeing to whatever the license may be before using the software. That may be a proprietary license but it also might be the MIT license or the GPL. If the installer is provided by a non-copyright owner that licenses the software under the GPL, is it legal to distribute an installer requiring users to agree to the GPL before using the GPL-licensed software?

This question is closely related to this other question but is not covered by that question.

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    Note that if you find some software like this, the GPL itself is what allows you (if you were so inclined), to take that software, to remove that "license click through" screen and then to re-release your new improved version. Alternatively, you could simply improve the user interface - you could display the license as a convenience to the user but don't offer "Accept" or "Reject" buttons, no Yes/No buttons, since those kind of buttons are misleading as you've pointed out here. Just show the license similar to a way README files are sometimes shown and then allow closing it conveniently.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 22:07
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    Of course if you do this you must take the GPL's "Appropriate Legal Notices" requirements into account. I don't know if this kind of screen really counts as an "Appropriate Legal Notice" as mentioned in the GPL. I have an instinct to say "no it does not" but I'm not completely sure.
    – Brandin
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 22:10
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    @Brandin not if the installer itself is proprietary and simply copies GPL-licensed files
    – lights0123
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 0:37
  • @lights0123: Good point, but could create your own installer or package the GPL software with a different installer. Unless the proprietary installer has some important logic of what to install where or system-detection or whatever, and/or also installs some non-GPL software. Commented May 18, 2023 at 2:24
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    Okay what was not clear to me was the meaning of "it" in your comment "You are bound by it whether you agree to it or not." I thought you were referring to any agreement you made when you clicked through - I see now that you may have meant the "it" was the GPL.
    – DavidT
    Commented May 19, 2023 at 11:41

1 Answer 1

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FSF has explained in their FAQ on GPLv3:

Some software packaging systems have a place which requires you to click through or otherwise indicate assent to the terms of the GPL. This is neither required nor forbidden. With or without a click through, the GPL's rules remain the same.

Due to the fact that GPL does not place any obligations on the user of a software, agreeing to the license does not have any effect on personal use.

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