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Re: [Bug-gnulib] missing licenses in gnulib / m4

Paul Eggert wrote:
> > The purpose of the "special exception" clause is so that also non-GPLed
> > packages can use autoconfiguration.
> Yes.  However, that purpose doesn't apply to GPLed modules, as they
> can't be linked with non-GPLed packages.

But since *.m4 files are often copied from one module to another, I prefer
to give even the *.m4 files of GPLed modules a more liberal license.

> > We want to encourage the use of configure scripts and of portable
> > programs.
> That is an important goal, but (putting my RMS hat on :-) it is a
> secondary one for the GNU project.  The main goal is freedom, not
> popularity.

And ease-of-use for the Unix users? If non-GPLed packages fit into
the "./configure; make; make install" scheme that GNU has invented,
the win is universal for all users.

> The question here is whether these m4 files are more like Emacs's .el
> files, or more like Autoconf's m4 files.

They are more like Autoconf's m4 files, IMO.

> > I see this "special exception" clause mostly as a clarification: Since
> > *.m4 files are never linked into executables or libraries, they could
> > also be used in non-LGPLed packages. But if the license doesn't
> > explicitly say so, the authors of such packages will be afraid to use it.
> But for GPLed modules, this is intentional.  We don't want people to
> use GPLed modules in non-GPLed applications.

But we certainly want to have the license clause to be as clear as possible,
no? (Since we are not lawyers who could earn money from a license dispute...)

The question does come up: The vim author doesn't want to use *.m4 files
from GNU because he thinks it would infect vim with GPL. So he makes up
his own autoconf tests for iconv() and gettext(), which then don't work
on half of the platforms or in half of the configurations.


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