Subject: Re: dumb GPL question
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 06 Jun 2001 10:42:05 -0700

Adam Theo <> writes:

> DJ Delorie <>:
>     If you are the author of the code, you could license your code
>     like this:
>      "This program is distributed under the terms of the GNU General
>       Public License, with the exception that the author considers the
>       officially distributed runtime libraries of any FooBar language
>       compiler to be part of the `compiler or operating system' and to
>       qualify for the compiler exception of GPL section 3"
> so, with the GPL, at least, it is the GPL that restricts the linking
> to other (non-copyleft or non-free) works?

Be careful about your language.  The GPL doesn't restrict linking at
all.  The GPL restricts distributing the resulting executable to
somebody else.  The GPL only controls copying.

The GPL does forbid distributing an executable which is linked to
other work for which source code is not provided, modulo a couple of
exceptions.  However, it is also quite possible that the other work
also forbids distribution of the linked work.  It's impossible to say
whether it is specifically the GPL which limits distribution without
more knowledge of the circumstances.

> it is not some U.S. law that restricts this?

What kind of law are you thinking of?  U.S. law does not mention the
GPL.  U.S. law does say that the author of work has a copyright, which
is the right to control copies modulo various important exceptions.

> i suppose the other work's license could restrict it linking with GPL
> (or certain other licenses) code, tho, correct? but my main point is
> that the GPL is pretty much to blame (sorry for using this word, but
> it conveys the meaning want) for not being able to link with other
> (non-GPL-compatible) works? 

You can't really say that without describing the license of the other
work.  The GPL permits distributing executables linked with a wide
range of non-GPL code.  It forbids distributing executables linked
with a different wide range of non-GPL code.  In some of the latter
cases, the non-GPL code also forbids distribution.