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Re: Distriution of GPL incompatible libraries

Glenn L. McGrath wrote:
> This question doesn't directly relate to debian, but i hope you can
> help straighten me out with this.
> I'm trying to understand licensing obligations in regard to GPL'ed
> binaries that link to GPL incompatible libraries.


> The current situation.
> A GPL'ed binary links to a shared library that is under the revised BSD
> license, the licenses are compatible so the distributer of unmodified
> GPL binaries must make the source to both projects available.
> The questionable situation
> A company distributes a GPL incompatible shared library that replaces
> the above mentioned BSD license library.
> A customer who downloads and installs this GPL incompatible library
> then has GPL'ed apps linked to GPL incompatible library.
> My understanding is that licences havent been violated by either the
> company or customer at this stage.

Correct.  The company hasn't distributed anything GPLed at all, and the
customer is free to link together whatever they wish if they don't
distribute the result.

> However, what if the customer then wanted to sell the machine, or if
> the company wanted to sell machines with this incompatible binary and
> library preinstalled. Would this violation the GPL, or is it possible
> that the companies modifcations are "hiding" behind the BSD license
> library ?

This would violate the GPL.  The violation occurs once you want to
distribute a GPLed binary linked to a GPL-incompatible library.  The
fact that your distribution medium is an entire computer system does not
change this.

> The confusing part for me is that the library is ABI compatible with
> a pre-existing compatible library, so I'm not sure when and by whom
> any problem occurs.

The problem only occurs once you *distribute* the GPLed binary linked to
the GPL-incompatible library.

- Josh Triplett

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