Does a GPL API infect its apps?

John Cowan cowan at
Wed Oct 20 19:18:46 UTC 1999

Raymond Luk scripsit:

> Does the fact that the API is GPL have any affect on apps written using the
> API?

Yes.  GPLed libraries can only be linked with GPLed (or weaker) code,
such as newBSD/MIT code or truly public-domain code.

> I know that GPL does not 'infect' via mere aggregation and that LGPL
> would cover apps if they were considered 'linked' to the API.

Vice versa.  The LGPL *does not* infect code that links to it, though it
*does* infect modified versions of the LGPLed code.  The distinction
is not always easy to make in particular cases.

> FYI, our intent is not to impose any restrictions on apps written using our
> API. Just want to let developers know what they're getting into.

Then the LGPL makes sense.  No version of your library can ever
become unfree, but unfree apps can be written using it.

John Cowan                                   cowan at
       I am a member of a civilization. --David Brin

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