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Re: GPL-script to be run on a non-free interpreter

On Sun, Aug 04, 2002 at 05:58:19PM +0200, Ralf Treinen wrote:
> Is it OK to distribute a script, which is
> - licencend under GPL.
> - intended to be executed by a non-free interpreter.

> Background: I'm intending to package maria (ITP at bug #146320), which
> is licenced under GPL. Besides the main tool, called maria, it also
> contains a script, called maria-vis, which can be used to visualise the
> output of maria. It is a script for the "lefty" interpreter, which is
> part of the non-free graphviz package. The first line of maria-vis is

> #!/usr/bin/lefty

> I was intending to split maria into several binary packages, in particular
> - maria: the core. Goes into main, suggests maria-vis
> - maria-vis: the mentioned script + manpage. Goes into contrib, depends
>   on graphviz.

> When I sent my ITP on debian-devel today, Moshe Zadka claimed that
> even distributing maria-viz would be illegal.

> http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2002/debian-devel-200208/msg00188.html

> Can please someone advise whether this is really the case?

It is ok to redistribute it by itself; if you distribute it with the
interpreter (which is the case in Debian), I believe the GPL requires you
to also distribute the interpreter's source under the GPL.  Therefore, if
the interpreter is not GPL-compatible, the letter of the GPL says you
cannot distribute this script in Debian.

However, you can do so easily if you get an exemption from the author
saying it's ok to distribute it with the "lefty" interpreter in spite of
the interpreter's license.  Legally, this is the least ambiguous
solution, so I recommend seeking this license exception from the author
to prevent future objections.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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