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I have some doubts about source code re-distribution and GPL


I wrote DummyLib, a library that includes AmazingLib (third-party lib, released under GPL) and links against ProprietarySDK (no source, only an API heade).

ProprietarySDK <--> DummyLib <--> AmazingLib(GPL)

Now I want to share DummyLib:

  1. I can't distribute DummyLib.dll for sure, because it would mix ProprietarySDK and AmazingLib
  2. I guess I can't distribute all the source code (ProprietarySDK.h + DummyLib/src + AmazingLib/src) either
  3. My question is: Can I distribute only my DummyLib/src code? i.e. my own code that has calls to both AmazingLib functions and ProprietarySDK functions but that won't work unless you get AmazingLib/src and ProprietarySDK.h code yourself and then compile it for yourself?

I would imagine I cannot because it'd seem like a trick to actually use GPL code everywhere. On the other hand I have the feeling that the key thing with GPL is re-distribution, so if I don't release back any of the GPL code it should be ok, right?

Thanks for reading

  • Are you making DummyLib available according t o the GPL? If I build a binary (using ProprietarySDK), I am allowed to redistribute that binary according to the GPL? – Brandin Dec 5 '19 at 6:56
  • @Brandin If possible, yes I'd distribute DummyLib/src under GPL. On your second question, I guess you can't release any binary either (see point 1. of the original question). – arthur Dec 5 '19 at 17:43
  • Are the different components libraries (like .so/.dll) that form a single program, or are they clearly separate programs (like microservices)? The GPL may apply to the entire program, which won't work if you can't publish the entire corresponding source for that program. If you were the sole copyright holder you could issue a GPL exception, but you cannot add such an exception for AmazingLib. – amon Dec 7 '19 at 21:23
  • @amon The components are bundled into a single library (which can then be used as a plugin for Proprietary application). – arthur Dec 8 '19 at 18:36
  • The GPL only applies when you distribute GPLed code / binaries built from that code. You can distribute your code however you like. The question is, what the users, who need to combine the codes, are allowed to do. – allo Dec 20 '19 at 10:09

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