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Questions tagged [gpl]

The GNU's General Public License, a commonly-used free software license. The GPL has various versions, v1-v3, so use this tag only for questions talking about overarching issues of the licenses or shared characteristics. For example, for a question about a unique section on version 3, use the [tag:gpl-3] tag.

170
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9answers
30k views

I lost the source code for programs I released as GPL. What to do?

I wrote a software utility I released freely as GPL on a separate machine some ten years ago. But the machine I wrote it on is lost, and I can't find the source code on any of my backups. I am still ...
56
votes
5answers
19k views

Can I use GPL libraries in a closed source project if only the output is distributed?

If I create a closed source application which uses some GPL licensed libraries but don't actually distribute the software, only its output, can I keep the software closed sourced? Specifically, I am ...
53
votes
7answers
4k views

Is requiring a license a violation of the GPL? Can I get around it?

At work, we use a version of GCC provided by a vendor of a proprietary OS. The vendor has modified gcc so that it will only run if it successfully acquires one of a limited number of licenses we've ...
44
votes
10answers
9k views

Is GPL “for research purposes only” self-contradictory?

So I used a piece of software which claims to be open source and is licensed under "GPL for research purposes only". As far as I know, GPL 2 and 3 are not themselves free, in sense that you can't ...
38
votes
3answers
2k views

What can/should I do when I see a violation to GPL restrictions?

Some years ago, I was working on a software company that used some copyrighted JAR dependencies that they had bought from a medium-size obscure private company for a very expensive price. After some ...
30
votes
4answers
10k views

Is it legal to use GPL code in a proprietary, closed-source program by putting it in a separate, standalone program?

As we all know, the GNU General Public License (GPL) is a "copyleft" source license: which means it is designed not merely to make the code to which it is initially applied free and preserve its ...
29
votes
3answers
1k views

Do I really need to include a licence file for common licences like GPL or MIT?

The GPL3, for example, says: Conveying Verbatim Copies. You may convey verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and ...
26
votes
4answers
1k views

If I include some GPL code in my project, can I release it as BSD?

I have scientific software that I would like to release under the BSD 3-clause licence, but it includes some old code that was released under GPL. Can I still package it all and release as BSD?
25
votes
8answers
29k views

Can GPL licenced software be used in corporate environments?

If software is licenced under a GPL license, can it be used without restriction in a corporate/commercial environment? The software that I am refering to is QGIS which provides this description: ...
25
votes
2answers
4k views

Why doesn't this GPL loophole work?

Suppose Alice makes some proprietary software. The source is available, but under a proprietary license which prohibits derivative works and sublicensing. Bob writes some GPLv3 code. Carol prepares ...
25
votes
2answers
4k views

Do you violate the GPL if you provide source code that cannot be compiled?

In a recent question on programmers.SE†, it was asked whether a project is open source if it provides some source code but doesn't make it clear how to actually compile it. Consensus is that it'...
24
votes
6answers
7k views

Can I take BSD licensed code and distribute it under GPL?

Or in more general terms: Can I take code which is licensed under a permissive open source license (like the BSD license) and distribute it under a copyleft free software license (like the GPL)? ...
23
votes
7answers
6k views

Can I use my client's GPL software?

I have a client who sent me his source code for me to review. It was a non-paying job. His source code was clearly a heavy modification from a popular GPL-licensed software which I part-authored. I ...
23
votes
2answers
2k views

What happens if very common code is released under GPL?

I know GPL can be used as an open-source license for source code etc. But what if the source code released has very few lines and has a lot of probability that it might also have been written already ...
22
votes
7answers
3k views

Are pirated GPL-derived “premium themes” legal?

A fellow Drupal developer is suggesting that we use themes from a collection of "Premium" paid Drupal themes downloaded from a torrent site on a shared project. It appears that most or all of these ...
22
votes
3answers
7k views

Why does Linux still use the GPLv2?

As I know, Linux intentionally avoids the switch from GPLv2 to GPLv3. It has the unfortunate side-effect, that it doesn't take part in the defense of the opensource world from the most recent danger, ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

How does GPL affect binary-only modifications?

GPL is a copyleft license where, if I make modifications to the source code and distribute the resulting binary, I need to provide the modified source code also under the GPL. What happens if I make ...
20
votes
1answer
3k views

Do defunct companies have to comply with requests for GPL code?

I have an embedded Linux device. The company that developed and produced this device is now defunct, having been sold to Flex Ltd. When this acquisition occurred, it seems that the employees signed ...
20
votes
1answer
304 views

What are the licensing terms of the text of the GPL?

The text of the GPLv3 starts with the following disclaimer: Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed. What does this ...
19
votes
2answers
2k views

How is Oracle suing Google for copyright infringement when Java is Open Source?

There is a case between Google and Oracle over the use of Java and it's standard library on the Google Android operating system. From [this article]: To recap: Oracle accused Google of ...
19
votes
1answer
2k views

Are all docker images free (i.e. GPL)?

Looking at the GPLv2 FAQ. I'd like to incorporate GPL-covered software in my proprietary system. Can I do this?. Since, any typical Linux distribution base image contains a variety of GPL-licensed ...
17
votes
3answers
705 views

With GPL, what does “source code” mean for non-software?

GPL is a license designed primarily for software, but it can be used for non-software. The license text has many mentions of "source code", which is ambiguous for non-software. GNU/FSF claim that GPL ...
17
votes
1answer
940 views

GPL v3 “convey” vs. GPL v2 “distribute”

I've noticed that the GNU GPL version 3 uses the word "convey" where version 2 used "distriubte": GNU GPLv3: To “convey” a work means any kind of propagation that enables other parties to make or ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

GPL V3 with OpenSSL Exception

I've decided to license some code I have yet to release under the GPL v3. However, OpenSSL is used quite a bit in the software and I know that the two licenses are explicitly cited as being ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

Can I insist on GPL version 3.0 terms when requesting GPL code from an embedded manufacturer?

I have an embedded device that contains software licensed under the GPL version 2.0 'or any later version'. The company that produced it never released any GPL code, and I plan to request it from them....
16
votes
4answers
406 views

What are the arguments for considering dynamic links to *not* constitute derivative works?

The status of programs which are dynamically linked with Copyleft licensed binaries (such as a .dll) is contentious. I have created two questions for each side of the debate. The other can be found ...
16
votes
1answer
2k views

Using GPL library with MIT licensed code

Let's say I created a project containing hundreds of source files under the MIT License (most of which I wrote myself for this project). Now I want to add a GPL library to the project, that will be ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

How to license software that implements a well-documented algorithm, but which does not borrow source from the official library?

I have implemented an RSYNC library based on the technical report by Andrew Tridgell and Paul Mackerras. The library implementation does not borrow code from the official RSYNC library and does not ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference between GPL + Classpath exception vs LGPL

Java and a few java libraries provide a "classpath" exception. To me, this seems similar to the LGPL's linking exceptions. What is the difference between the GPL with a classpath exception and the ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

When distributing a Linux kernel driver as source code, what's the difference between Proprietary and GPL license?

The company I work for is selling PCIe cards. I'm writing the Linux driver for it as a Linux kernel module. When selling these PCIe cards, we give along the Linux kernel driver as source code. ...
14
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is GPLv2 incompatible with GPLv3?

As I understood in this wonderful answer, GPLv3 and GPLv2 code can't be used simultanously in the same product. Why?
14
votes
2answers
3k views

GPL code private and stolen

I have a question regarding code which was originally under GPL. The code was used and was built upon and used as a service. The code was kept private, which seems okay under GPL. However, if one of ...
14
votes
1answer
382 views

GPL - Does “internal use” apply for a public gameserver?

While reading through the GPL FAQ I found some relevant points to the question, however it is still unclear to me if this fully applies to a public gameserver. I'll try to keep it short: There is a ...
13
votes
2answers
835 views

Are you obliged to enforce your license?

I've got a number of software projects, licensed under varying licenses. For simplicity, let's take one of them, licensed under the GPL. Obviously, the GPL requires various things, and there may be ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

How is the BSD GPL-compatible?

The BSD license says that derivative works may be distributed under the following conditions: Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Do I have to release my code as GPL when a Java Library is GPL

I have found a Java library that can be used under the GPL licence (not the LGPL licence). Can I embed the library in my program without the requirement of using the GPL licence? I have no ...
13
votes
1answer
496 views

Is there a reason to prefer the SimPL over the GPL? Does it carry the same legal weight?

I just came across the SimPL License which is described as: This Simple Public License 2.0 (SimPL-2.0 for short) is a plain language implementation of GPL 2.0. The words are different, but the ...
13
votes
3answers
379 views

Does using GNU Unifont in a game make the game GPL?

GNU Unifont is a fontface licensed under the GNU GPLv2 or later with this exception: The license for the compiled fonts is covered by the above GPL terms with the GNU font embedding exception, as ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Am I in danger if a project component is relicensed?

I am currently managing a project, which includes a library that is licensed under the MIT license. My current project is licensed under the Apache 2.0 license. The maintainers of the library that I ...
12
votes
5answers
519 views

GPL-Licensed LaTeX template - implications for resulting work?

I'm currently writing my master thesis, and the classicthesis template we're supposed to use is licensed GPLv2+. As I understand the GPL, this makes my written thesis a derivative work, and would ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do some GNU distributions with a Linux kernel convey GPL software online without providing source code?

I have noticed that some groups or organizations convey the GPL software without the source code. Such examples are: https://sourceforge.net/projects/serbian2014/files/Download/ as Serbian GNU/Linux ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Is it possible for Linux developers to retroactively “pull their code” from Linux?

Linux now has a Code of Conduct. In the resulting backlash some people have claimed that developers can "flip a kill switch" or "pull their code" from Linux. They seem to mean that developers can ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Can plugins for closed source software use GPL'd libraries?

I use closed-source scientific software for my work. I also use GPL licensed tools and libraries. It would save me a lot of time to be able to call a GPL library directly from the closed-source ...
12
votes
2answers
314 views

What are the arguments for considering dynamic links to constitute derivative works?

The status of programs which are dynamically linked with Copyleft licensed binaries (such as a .dll) is contentious. I have created two questions for each side of the debate. The other can be found ...
12
votes
2answers
511 views

Is Stack Exchange's CC-BY-SA v3.0 content compatible with the GPL?

Currently, all user submitted content is licensed under "cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required". This shows up at the bottom of each page: user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with ...
12
votes
2answers
243 views

Why does the FSF make this recommendation about ranges of copyright years?

In the document “How to use GNU licenses for your own software”, the FSF says: For software with several releases over multiple years, it's okay to use a range (“2008-2010”) instead of listing ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Removing the original copyright line from footer

There's this web app licensed under GPLv3 that I'd like to deploy. However, the footer of each page has a copyright line, e.g., "© 2015 FooBar Inc.". Is it okay to remove that line and/or replace it ...
11
votes
1answer
114 views

GPL version not specified, and actual license text not provided with the source

I'm working on porting a very old program (1994) that was released under the GPL. However, the only reference to that license is this text in the header of the C files: This program is free ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

When is my project a derivative work in an interpreted language?

With compiled languages, I understand when a work is considered derivative of another and thus, a license such as the GNU GPL covers the whole work. However, with interpreted languages such as PHP or ...
11
votes
1answer
430 views

Is it possible to release a project under the GPL if it contains MIT-licensed libraries?

Specifically the Symfony PHP framework, which is MIT licensed. I've read that the two are compatible, but I want to make sure that a system I develop can be released complete under the GPL.