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Re: Is m4 autoconf code "like a compiler or linker"?

Paul Elliott <pelliott@blackpatchpanel.com> writes:

> I have some gplv3 autoconf m4 files in my project.
> These files exist solely to tell the compiler how to find the include
> files and what compiler options to use, and tell the linker how to
> find the libraries, and what linker options to use.
> None of the code in these m4 files exists at runtime.

If they are part of the work in Debian, then we must comply with the
terms of the license to distribute them. Source packages and binary
packages are works in Debian.

> Can I say that since this code does not exist at runtime, the use of
> these m4 files is like the use of a compiler or linker?

No, since the compiler or linker is not part of the same work; these m4
files are part of the same work.

> This is really saying that since these files are used at compile/link
> time my ultimate result is not a derived work, even partially of these
> files.

These m4 files (going by your description only) are more like what the
GPL refers to as “scripts to control” building the program. GPLv3 §1:

      The "Corresponding Source" for a work in object code form means
    all the source code needed to generate, install, and (for an
    executable work) run the object code and to modify the work,
    including scripts to control those activities.

So the m4 files are part of the “corresponding source” for the work.

 \     “Here is a test to see if your mission on earth is finished. If |
  `\                          you are alive, it isn't.” —Francis Bacon |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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