Licensing question (GPL or LGPL) (Ben Finney)

Ben Finney ben at
Wed Jul 6 00:03:02 UTC 2005

On 05-Jul-2005, Sam wrote:
> Ben Finney <ben at>
> > What are your goals for licensing the project? You're asking for
> > advice to choose between two licenses, but haven't told us why you
> > already prefer one or the other.
> We would like to use LGPL if we can (for our API), but as we're
> building the PD External with a GPL library we might not be able to
> do that.

That doesn't answer the question. Why do you prefer the LGPL over the

> Our API builds on LibcURL (MIT), TinyXML (zLIB) and LibSnd (LGPL)
> => can we release our API as LGPL?

If your work is a derivative work of those other libraries, you must
comply with their copyright licenses. The way you describe your work
sounds like it's a derivative; therefore, only LGPL or GPL will
suffice for redistributing the work.

> Our 'pure data plugin' uses above + uses Flext (GPL), thus it can
> only be released under the GPL, is that right?

As a derivative work of a GPL work, it can only be redistributed under
the same terms, i.e. GPL.

> We are the copyright holders. But our API uses other libraries,
> hence this mail.

It all comes down to whether your work is a "derivative work" of some
else's, e.g. the Flext code. If so, you're not the sole copyright
holders in the derivative work and must comply with the license under
which you received that code.

Writing a program which links to a library is generally held to be
making a derivative work of that library, thus the combined program
must satisfy all license terms when you perform an act covered by

In short: though you've written the program, you've based it on
someone else's work (the library), thus it's a derivative work, thus
their license terms apply to your distribution.

 \      "For my birthday I got a humidifier and a de-humidifier. I put |
  `\      them in the same room and let them fight it out."  -- Steven |
_o__)                                                           Wright |
Ben Finney <ben at>
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