Does a GPL API infect its apps?

Arandir arandir at
Thu Oct 21 02:48:07 UTC 1999

On Wed, 20 Oct 1999, Raymond Luk wrote:
> Web have a Web application framework which is open source
> ( It is currently using a BSD-style license but we want
> to change to GPL. It is essentially a set of mod_perl classes.
> Does the fact that the API is GPL have any affect on apps written using the
> API? I know that GPL does not 'infect' via mere aggregation and that LGPL
> would cover apps if they were considered 'linked' to the API.
> 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.

I have heard very good opinions on both sides of this issue. But even if
linking to a GPL library from non-GPL code were legal, you run the risk of the
library's owner getting very pissed, or turning away potential users of your
own library.

I would use the LGPL for this, or, you could do what Linus Torvalds did. He
added a paragraph after the GPL saying that using kernel was considered a
normal use of the kernel, and was exempted. You could do something similar by
announcing that programs linking to your library are not considered to be
derivitive of the library, but all other derivitives are subject to all the GPL


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