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Re: Including TortoiseMerge in a commercial non-GPL application - possible?

From: Stefan Küng <tortoisesvn_at_gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 08 Oct 2008 08:49:22 +0200

Aras Pranckevi?ius wrote:

> A licensing question comes. I know that it's best to ask lawyers for
> that info, but I wanted to ask developers as well.
>
> The situation is this: I'm making a commercial non-GPL piece of
> software. At some point, that software has two text files and I need a
> way to visually display the differences between them. So the most
> straightforward way would be to include some visual diff program
> inside my software and launch it. For example TortoiseMerge.
>
> Now, TortoiseMerge is GPL licensed. My program is closed source, non-
> GPL. Is it ok/legal/ethical to take TortoiseMerge, include it in my
> installer, install it somewhere inside my application's folder, and
> invoke it?
>
> From my reading of GPL FAQ (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-
> faq.html#NFUseGPLPlugins), it looks like that would be legal. I'm not
> linking to TortoiseMerge, I'm just invoking it as a separate program.
> The questions are: 1) is my understanding of GPL is correct, and 2)
> would TortoiseSVN developers be okay with me doing that?

That faq only covers whether you're allowed to *use* a GPL tool: "Can I
release a non-free program that's designed to load a GPL-covered plug-in?"
It does not allow you to *bundle* or *ship* a GPL tool together with
your application.

If you want to use TortoiseMerge (which you're allowed to do), you have
to make this a separate download: your users must install this
separately since you're not allowed to bundle it with your application.

Also, if you provide a download for TortoiseMerge on your website, you
also must provide the sourcecode yourself. If you don't want that, you
have to provide a link to our homepage and the TortoiseMerge downloads
from out pages.

You can check how VisualSVN does it: they use TortoiseSVN in their
commercial product. But they can't ship it together, they too had to
provide a separate download for TortoiseSVN:
http://www.visualsvn.com/visualsvn/download/

Stefan

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Received on 2008-10-08 08:49:39 CEST

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