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Re: Binary Version for Mac OS X?

From: Bob Friesenhahn
Subject: Re: Binary Version for Mac OS X?
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007 21:22:42 -0500 (CDT)

On Thu, 21 Jun 2007, John W. Eaton wrote:

Really?  Even if the installer is not linked with the GPLed program
that is installing?  Why?  I thought the GPL covered derivative works.
How would an installer program be a derivative work of the program it

From GPL v2:

  "The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
making modifications to it.  For an executable work, complete source
code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any
associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to
control compilation and installation of the executable."

Clearly the impact of the rules depend on how installation is implemented. If installation is done via an bundled executable program ("InstallShield" style), then it is clear that the source for the installer program must be included (or freely available). But if the installer is a standard part of the operating system and the installable package is simply a data format, then all that is needed is the developer-level description to produce that data format. For example, RPM packages are a data format.

For Mac OS X, investigation is likely to find that the standard installer is actually part of the OS and the packages are just a data format prepared by some other tool which is also provided with the OS. However, there are "InstallShield" style installers for OS X which do not use the installation facilities of the OS.

It is a misnomer that GPL only covers "derivative works" (where someone has modified the source code or used it as part of their own program). Instead it covers any distribution of the "Program" based on GPL copyrighted material (modified or not). GPL does not limit any other use.

Since this is the Autoconf list, it is worth pointing out that GPL requires that any developer-level source elements for the build/install environment (e.g. be included with the associated package.

Bob Friesenhahn
GraphicsMagick Maintainer,

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