Spotting GPL violations

Philip Webster phil at
Sat Dec 11 16:07:19 UTC 2004

Jeroen Dekkers wrote:

> At Sat, 11 Dec 2004 13:21:59 +0000,
> Philip Webster wrote:
>>A piece of software has come to my attention that may be violating the 
>>GPL. Details are as follows:
>>- The software is an interface (GUI, intermediary routines) between a 
>>proprietary operating system and the Free printing system GIMP-Print.
>>- The company distributing the software is not offering source code, and 
>>has not licensed the derivative work under the GPL.
> The question is whether this is really a derivative work. "An
> interface" doesn't really say anything, it can be a library interface
> or it could talk over some protocol using sockets.
It appears to be a library interface.

>>- The software can only be downloaded after a 'donation' is received to 
>>unlock the download page.
> This on itself is allowed under the GPL, but you aren't allowed to add
> extra restrictions on the software downloaded.
Unfortunately, no licensing information is available other than that the 
interface is 'not Free'. I assume that the downloaded program would 
include a Readme file.

>>- The software is downloaded as a complete package which includes both 
>>proprietary and GPL-licensed code. The interface itself is useless 
>>without GIMP-Print and was written specifically for it, rather than as 
>>an abstract printer interface and GUI. It is also possible to download 
>>the Free parts separately.
>>This sounds a LOT like a GPL violation, but I'd be interested to hear 
>>what others' first impressions are.
>>I'll post some links to more detailed evidence once the initial batch of 
>>responses come in...
> Not giving all information is really counterproductive with things
> like this. If you don't give the details, I can't give a good opinion
> about it.
> Jeroen Dekkers
In that case, here are the details!
GIMP-Print for RISC OS:

Screenshots of the interface:

The download page:

"GPDriver requires a front-end printing layer (such as that supplied 
with the complete Gimp-Print for RISC OS release archive) to interface 
with the RISC OS printing system.

The remaining components of the Gimp-Print for RISC OS project (most 
notably, the printing layer) are not free software. For the time being, 
they are only available to supporters of the project. There may be a 
public release of these components at a later date."

Release announcement on the SourceForge GIMP-Print mailing list:

Announcement on a RISC OS portal site:
"The GPDriver, of course, isn't much use to you unless you have the rest 
of the front end software, of which there "may be a public release... at 
a later date", according to MW Software. Last month, MW Software asked 
users to donate cash to the project, which uses the popular open source 
gimp-print library to enable printing on a range of modern printers."

Press release by the author:


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