E pur si muove

GPL and python modules

Friday, March 28, 2008

I should probably google this, but can't think of good keywords. So instead this is a "dear lazy web" post.

Is importing a python module considered linking for the GPL? I.e. are you allowed to import a python module into an script or module that has a non-GPL-comptible license?



Jack Diederich said...

I believe the GPL module taints the program (which is only a problem if you distribute it). For that reason most python modules are BSD/MIT/Apache licensed or occasionally LGPL'd.

The Python Software Foundation requires all core contributors to sign an agreement that puts their code contributions under a BSD-ish license (the license FAQ says Academic Free License or Apache).

Jack Diederich said...

err, I should add:

Ask the module maintainer to dual license the code. Asking can't hurt and he might not know he has gimped the module by GPL'ing it.

Steve said...

But Jack correctly states above that this is only a problem if you distribute the GPL module as part of your combined work.

The FSF are trying to say that your software must be distributed under the GPL if it makes use of GPL modules, but legally this is a specious claim if the "combined work" is actually produced by the end user combining your software with a GPL'd module.

The relevant argument, IMHO, is that someone else could implement the same API in another non-GPL'd module, and the FSF cannot argue control over the API, only control over its own implementation of the API.

Small print: I am not a lawyer

Floris Bruynooghe said...

Thanks for the input. Making the end-user get and install the GPL'ed moduled seems like an odd but interesting backdoor...

It also always surprises me how liberal the Python community is with their code, preferring MIT/BSD above GPL.

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