1

I am using mostly LGPL or compatible libraries, but there's also a few that are available under GPL & compatible only.

I understand that GPL requirements apply to software distribution, in other words, I can link against GPL with no obligations whatsoever so long as I am not distributing but instead using the software internally.

My product, as offered to 3rd party users in a binary form, excludes everything that is not LGPL compatible, and is distributed under a proprietary license.

Is it possible to distribute my software under my license terms, provided that all GPL options are disabled by default, all relevant code is disabled, and no linking against any GPL code takes place?

Or alternatively - does writing #include <GPLcode> on a piece of paper make the paper subject to GPL requirements, since it does conceptually contain a references link to GPL code? Asking since a "text print" of code does technically satisfy providing a source copy.

2
  • As for your last paragraph (a "text print" of code does technically satisfy providing a source copy), note that the GPL v3 does clarify that you must supply the corresponding source "on a durable physical medium customarily used for software interchange" or via access to a server, so if you do try to fulfill your GPL source-disclosure obligations by providing your source only as a paper printout, then you might run into challenges (since working with printouts of source code is not the customary way to do software interchange nowadays).
    – Brandin
    Aug 8, 2023 at 7:38
  • To add such a clause so down the line, they must have grown tired of getting paper copies.
    – dtech
    Aug 8, 2023 at 8:22

1 Answer 1

3

Is it possible to distribute my software under my license terms, provided that all GPL options are disabled by default, all relevant code is disabled, and no linking against any GPL code takes place?

Yes, that is possible.

As an example, ffmpeg is distributed with different sets of encoders. When the GPL licensed encoders are included in the distribution, it is provided under the GPL license. If they are not included, a more permissive license is used. Which encoders are included is a matter of build options.

2
  • Thanks, this spares me maintaining a pruned "gpl free" version of the project. I am in fact extra isolated, as ffm does ship actual binaries that are simply not included.
    – dtech
    Aug 5, 2023 at 7:34
  • The same applies to libcurl. It has three versions. One linked to OpenSSL, one linked to GnuTLS and one linked to NSS. GnuTLS' dependencies are licensed under GPLv2+ or LGPLv3+.
    – ruben2020
    Aug 5, 2023 at 9:17

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.