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Using a non-free binary library in a GPL web application?

From: Mattt
Subject: Using a non-free binary library in a GPL web application?
Date: 3 Apr 2007 08:29:29 -0700
User-agent: G2/1.0


I have a question related to the GPL licensing.
I have a GPLed software written in php. It is distributed in source
form over the internet.
In this software, I want to draw some nice graphics. I found a flash
library (released in the binary form, a SWF file) that does the job
nicely. It is released under a license which says "Enterprise licence
(XXX Euros) ; For unlimited use in projects and applications you own
or develop"

I would like to use this non-free library in binary form in my GPL

Considering the GPL FAQ
it looks like it is allowed for me to use this binary library.

But "If you do this, your program won't be fully usable in a free
environment. If your program depends on a non-free library to do a
certain job, it cannot do that job in the Free World." ; I don't
really understand the limitation here? What means "it cannot do that
job in the Free World"?

For information, the non-free library I plan to use works without
calling functions ; I actually give it a XML file, and it produces
output with this XML file.
Also, my software does not depends on the use of this library. It is
more like an "additional feature". I don't know if this detail can

My questions are :
- Can I use the non-free library in my GPL software without problems,
that is my software can stay GPL and his library can stay non-free?
- What do I need to do with the non-free license holder, so that it is
allowed for me to use the license? Do I need a special statement from
him that he will put in his license? Do I need to pay the enterprise
license price?
- Do you have any other ideas/ things related to my problem?

I thought I understood well the GPL license, but this point is clearly
not clear in my head.

Thank you very much for your help!


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