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Re: Question about automake 1.11.1 licensing

From: Ralf Wildenhues
Subject: Re: Question about automake 1.11.1 licensing
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2010 07:00:32 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2010-08-04)

Hello Chase,

* Maupin, Chase wrote on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 03:25:21PM CEST:
> Hopefully someone here can clarify the automake licensing for me.  I
> am looking at the sources for automake version 1.11.1 and I noticed
> that there appears to be two licenses in the sources.
> At the top-level directory the COPYING file says that the license is
> GPLv2 and I do not see the "or later" version clause.

Right.  That's the current license for Automake itself.  See below for

> In the lib directory there is a COPYING file that says GPLv3 while the
> headers in the sources say GPLv2 or later.  Is this COPYING file an
> auto-generated file from automake itself using the "gnu" standards?

This COPYING file is the default license to be copied into new user
packages.  IOW, when you make a new package using Automake, the first
time you run
  automake --add-missing

it will install COPYING for you, unless you already have a COPYING file.

> What I am trying to figure out is:
> 1.  What is the intended license for automake?  GPLv2 or GPLv3?
> 2.  If GPLv3 is there an exception intended like the autoconf exception?
> Any guidance you can provide would be appreciated.

Currently, Automake is under GPLv2.  We are (slowly) moving toward
GPLv3, however.

With both the current license, and any future license, the idea is that
packages using Automake are not bound by the Automake license: the macro
files automake/m4/*.m4 which may be copied into your package's
aclocal.m4 file, have very liberal license headers.  The
files produced by automake receive very liberal license headers as well
(basically all you need to do is retain the license statement).  The
helper scripts automake/lib/* either have very liberal license
statements themselves, or carry a GPL exception, or are considered
independent programs on their own.

Only if you modify the Automake package itself and distribute the
modified package, are you thus bound by the Automake GPL license.

Hope that helps.  And no, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal
advice.  If you (or your lawyers) find anything unclear about the
situation as written in the source code, then feel free to report
back, so we can clarify things together with the FSF legal dept.


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