Fw: Query about GNU-GPL

Laurence Finston lfinsto1 at gwdg.de
Fri Mar 25 12:28:12 UTC 2005

Frank Heckenbach wrote:

> It makes a part of Bison, namely it's parsing code that it copied
> almost literally, part of your package. Bison contains a special
> exception to allow linking of it's output (LALR(1) only, up to now)
> with non-GPL programs. 

It certainly does not make my package part of the Bison package, which has
been claimed in this discussion, if I've understood the posters correctly. 
Nor do I believe that including a file generated by Bison makes the Bison
package part of my package.  The licenses involved specifically allow this
use.  In addition, I do not currently distribute any preprocessed code or
object code.  I don't know whether a court would consider the line `#include
"parser.h"' in one of my source files and the line `g++ -c -o parser.o
parser.c++' and the string "parser.o" in the linking command in my
`Makefile.am' file  to be "making Bison part of my package".  In this case,
the point is moot, because both packages are licensed under the GNU GPL.

In no case could the Bison developers be made responsible for any actions I
take using my copies of their source code.  The Bison package is what the
Bison project distributes.   Saying "my package becomes part of Bison" implies
the opposite, which is why I feel it's important to emphasize this point.

> This was discussed very recently on
> help-bison, so you might have been aware of this, BTW. 

I am, and also that it was never the intention of the Bison project that the
files output by Bison should fall under the GPL, just as text files written
using GNU Emacs do not.  

> So you can't
> generalize from Bison to other packages that don't have such an
> exception.

I believe the problem was a copyright notice in Bison's output.  

I used Bison as an example of one possible way of using packages in
combination.  I followed it with a different example using GNU Plotutils.
For libraries with non-free licenses, I gave a reference to a section of the
GNU GPL FAQ.  I have also provided an address for anyone who still has
questions.  I hope that anyone with a genuine question about  licenses now has
enough information to go on with.


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