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Re: GPL licenced Java application using non GPL jars (libraries)

From: Ben
Subject: Re: GPL licenced Java application using non GPL jars (libraries)
Date: Mon, 22 May 2006 20:06:59 +0100
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20060308)


Much as I'd like to argue the specifics of the GPL the original problem still stands. The third party jars are used via method calls, not by inheritance. Even so the GPL is too vague. I suspect as a small development if it went to court I could argue that there was no intent to deliberately violate the licence, I intended to benefit society, and due to the vagueness of the licence the general consensus/common sense would hold true. However I won't be releasing the software under GPL (yet) because of the potential risk.

I've emailed to get a response to the following:

I represent a small team of developers who have a project we would like to release under the GPL. The code is written in Java, however it uses a number of dynamically linked "jar" libraries, these are open source but fall under other licences, e.g. Apache, CPL etc.

Can we distribute the project source and binary with the additional non GPL jars under the GPL - i.e. the other licences remain intact?

Failing that can we distribute the source for the project under the GPL -including mention of the non GPL classes in the source- and distribute the non GPL jars separately, for building by the end user?

Thank you for your time - its appreciated,


Common sense says that dynamically linking should be allowed, but the vagueness of the licence may be preventing this and other software from being truly open source. I suspect the licence is deliberately vague because of the difficultly of defining the clauses.


Stefaan A Eeckels wrote:
On Sun, 21 May 2006 17:55:07 +0100
Ben <> wrote:

I've a program I want to release under the GPL, it relies on a number
of jar libraries covered under other licences such as Apache 2.0.

You mean that it uses/derives from classes in those libraries (like
e.g. Lucene?)

Can I still distribute the software under the GPL or should I choose another licence?

Your source code is yours to license as you please. The fact that it
uses the Java mechanisms to call library code does not make it a
derivative work of these libraries. You use jars, meaning that you
didn't copy source code into your program, and thus the license of the
jars doesn't matter.
Recipients of your GPLed code can without problems redistribute it.
They can prepare derivative works and redistribute those under the GPL.

The fact that in order to run your program they would have to ensure
that their computer is configured correctly (i.e. the jars are
available and in the classpath) doesn't influence your right to license
your own work as you see fit.
If so what would you recommend?

If it's wholly your work, license it under the license you want. If you
feel that what you wrote is not original enough, heed the wishes of the
authors of the stuff you used.

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