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First of all none of us are lawyers, so take anything we say with appropriate amounts of salt. Furthermore note that without case law, there are huge grey areas which might resolve in any way at all.

Since the GPL is entirely a copyright license, the legal question is at what point you have a derivative work under copyright. When you compile something with gcc, it is fairly clear. The output files don't contain copyrighted material from gcc, so it isn't a derivative work (under copyright law). When you use a templating system it is also clear. The output includes copyrighted material from the templates, so you have a derivative work. (There may be no derivation from the implementation of the templating system.) Where it is grey is when you have a program that interoperates with other code. At what point are they separate, and at what point do you have a copyrightable whole? This is unresolved, though historically people said, "If you link, it is a whole, if they merely talk through IPC, it isn't."

Whatever the answer there, there is a parallel non-trivial complication in the case of Perl. Perl is distributed with your choice of the GPL or Artistic license. Should you link Perl with GPLed code, your copy would then have to be GPLed. You can link in LGPLed code and there is no problem. Now suppose that you write a Perl program, and you have a GPLed copy of Perl, and have linked in (and loaded) lots of GPLed stuff. Does your script need to be GPLed? I know of no definitive answer, but at least one opinion saying "No" and another saying "Yes".

If you want more detailed discussion of this question, I would suggest looking up the free software license discussion mailing list. (They might send you to a more appropriate list still. If so, then I don't know which one.)


In reply to Re (tilly) 1: GPL and LGPL linkage to Perl by tilly
in thread GPL and LGPL linkage to Perl by mdupont

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