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The GPL is viral. How does this apply to the LaTeX eco system if one uses a package licensed under the GPL2++?

  1. If I use it in a document, must the document also be licensed under the GPL?
  2. If I use it in a package, must that package also be licensed under the GPL?
  3. If I use it in a document class, must the document class also be licensed under the GPL?
  4. If I create a program that creates LaTeX code which uses 1, 2 or 3 - must that program also be licensed under the GPL?
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closed as not a real question by Keks Dose, Tom Bombadil, Loop Space, egreg, tohecz Aug 27 '12 at 19:41

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

As long as you don't reuse any code from the package and don't distribute it yourself, I don't think your own code is affected. –  canaaerus Aug 27 '12 at 13:41
@Martin I assume that the background to the question here is that TeX code is used 'raw' by TeX (ultimately \input), with no compilation. There's a contrast to a compiled GPL program, where I can use it's 'defined interfaces' without accessing the code and without needing to license under the GPL. My worry from the POV of TeX-sx is that this is a legal question, which is not the area of expertise of the majority of us (and indeed the network as a whole avoids legal questions for I think obvious reasons). –  Joseph Wright Aug 27 '12 at 13:48
@MartinSchröder The document you produce is not a program, but data. You aren't required to release under the GPL images produced with "The Gimp". –  egreg Aug 27 '12 at 15:27
@MartinSchröder gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#WhatCaseIsOutputGPL –  egreg Aug 27 '12 at 19:33
@AndrewStacey: Then it should have been closed as OT, not as NARQ. And I'm not sarcastic. :-) –  Martin Schröder Aug 28 '12 at 18:53

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

My current understanding of this is: All cases must be licensed under the GPL, as they are all modified versions, not aggregates. Or the LaTeX package is a library.

Which is why the GPL is IMHO the wrong FSF license for LaTeX packages; the LGPL would be much better.

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Many people who make a contribution want to make it Free. GPL is what they know, what they have heard of, what they admire. I suspect that you are after an education issue (whether I agree with you or not :-) ). –  Jim Hefferon Aug 27 '12 at 23:33

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