[License-discuss] GPL and non-GPL binaries in one distribution

Henrik Ingo henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
Thu Jan 12 20:31:00 UTC 2012

On Thu, Jan 12, 2012 at 5:59 PM, Mike Steglich
<mike.steglich at th-wildau.de> wrote:
> Hi,
> Is it permitted to have a program licensed under GPLv3 and an EPL software
> in one binary distribution? There is no share of source code ore use of a
> library. The GPL binary executes the EPL binary as an external process (as a
> command line tool).

The FSF position has always been that separately executed processes
are separate works and the GPL license of one would not affect the
license of the other:

"For instance, if the program uses only simple fork and exec to invoke
and communicate with plug-ins, then the plug-ins are separate
programs, so the license of the plug-in makes no requirements about
the main program."

It seems, that was exactly what you wanted to do.

On this topic there are many opinions out there and little case law,
but personally I've always thought that if the FSF as the author of
the GPL thinks something is permitted, then at least that much must be
permitted and you can quite safely do that.

> I interpret that as an aggregate:
>  A compilation of a covered work with other separate and independent works,
> which are not by their nature extensions of the covered work, and which are
> not combined with it such as to form a larger program, in or on a volume of
> a storage or distribution medium, is called an "aggregate" if the
> compilation and its resulting copyright are not used to limit the access or
> legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works
> permit.  Inclusion of a covered work in an aggregate does not cause this
> License to apply to the other parts of the aggregate.
> Am I right or not?

I've always felt that words like "independent" and "combine a larger
program" are a bit ambiguous when your two separate programs still
interact and "work together" so to speak. Even so, whether it is
because it is an aggregation or for some other reason, the GPL FAQ
clearly suggests it is permitted.

henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
+358-40-8211286 skype: henrik.ingo irc: hingo

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