[Fedora-legal-list] What are the implications of a license which is GPL incompatible?

Tom "spot" Callaway tcallawa at redhat.com
Sun Feb 8 18:51:08 UTC 2009

On 2009-02-08 at 10:43:01 -0500, "Richard W.M. Jones"
<rjones at redhat.com> wrote:
> I've read the FAQ
> https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Licensing/FAQ#What_does_it_mean_when_a_license_is_listed_as_.22GPLv2_compat.22_or_.22GPLv3_compatible.22.3F
> but I'm unclear what it means if a license is *IN*compatible with the
> GPL.
> As an example, suppose I have a program which is GPLv2+, and it
> requires a library which is (for example) APSL2.0.  Is the linking
> permitted?  Can I distribute the result as a binary (with an offer of
> source) or do end-users have to link it themselves?  Is there a
> difference between dynamic and static linking?

The FSF's interpretation is that linking (either dynamic or static)
requires license compatibility.

Quoting from their FAQ:

If a library is released under the GPL (not the LGPL), does that mean
that any program which uses it has to be under the GPL or a
GPL-compatible license?

    Yes, because the program as it is actually run includes the library.


They do not make a distinction between dynamic and static linking.

Now, this may not always be accurate, there is no case law either way,
but in general, it is better to assume the worst than hope for the best
in such situations.

If you're the copyright holder for the GPLv2+ code base, you can add an
exception, as described here:


You probably want to have someone look over any exception text that you add.

Hope that helps,


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