Not linking but rather using - auto download OK?
schmiddy at gmail.com
Fri Jan 16 21:35:58 CET 2009
(Update: Thanks Hendrik for your reply, you beat me by a few seconds.
It looks like we're on the same page, but I hope this information is
I recommend you talk to a lawyer. IANAL, and the following is not
legal advice, but pure speculation on my part.
Your question boils down to two key issues:
1.) Is an application developed with a MySQL backend considered a
derived work of MySQL?
2.) If 1.) is true, could the application still set up an automatic
download, initiated by the end-user, of MySQL without violating
As to question 1.), the answer appears to be yes -- an application
developed with a MySQL back-end *is* considered a derived work of
MySQL. For more information see these mysql.com forum posts and
You could also, of course, ask the MySQL people directly yourself --
similar variations of question 1.) have been posted several other
times on the MySQL forums.
As for question 2.), I would recommend looking at how Ubuntu
redistributes "nonfree" software (e.g. flashplugin-nonfree), with a
user-initiated download and why they are allowed to do this. My
understanding is that their situation is actually a little different
than yours, since the software you wish to redistribute to users could
be construed as a derived work of MySQL, regardless of whether MySQL
was physically included in the package your are giving to your users
or not. In other words, whether your end-users install MySQL by hand,
by a download script, or as an included component in your package, the
status of the software you've written will be the same (i.e. a derived
work of MySQL, and whatever other GPL'ed components you intimately
Having said all that, I'd like to highlight a response from Zak Greant
from the first link above:
"If you are a small vendor or independent developer who needs a
pricing break to make your application viable, just write a letter to
community at mysql.com that outlines your situation and needs. We will
work to try and arrange pricing that works for your application. In
the letter, please provide us with information on what your
application does, what you want to charge for it, how many you hope to
sell, and so on. "
Hope this helps.
On Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 2:45 PM, John Hancock <jhnhncck19 at googlemail.com> wrote:
> I hope that I arrived at the right mailing list. If not, please accept
> my apology and I would appreciate it if you could direct me to the
> correct mailing list (or forum):
> I am an individual programmer, developing a cool software application
> with the hope to make a living selling it over the internet.
> The problem is that this application relies on using separate GPL-ed
> software (e.g. MySQL), running in the background.
> I know that legally (according to the terms of the GPL) I cannot link
> to GPL software without having to open my own source code as well (my
> trade secret), so I thought of a possibly legal alternative:
> Instead of bundling that GPL software with my application, my
> application's installer will automatically download that GPL software
> from the internet and install it for the end-user.
> Technically speaking, it is the end user who downloads and installs
> that GPL software. That is, I didn't provide that GPL software but
> rather helped the user get it.
> The question now is whether this is considered so legally as well?
> Also, I am curious to know whether there are already commercial
> applications that do just that. For example, a commercial application
> that relies on MySQL but does not modify or statically link to it in
> any way, just using it to store information in a database.
> Thank you,
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