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Licensing of libgcc and libstdc++ as shared libraries
- From: "Aaron W. LaFramboise" <aaronraolete36 at aaronwl dot com>
- To: gcc at gcc dot gnu dot org
- Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2004 14:43:51 -0500
- Subject: Licensing of libgcc and libstdc++ as shared libraries
I would like some assistance with clarification of the libgcc and
libstdc++ licenses in regards to shared libraries. My question is this,
followed by some comments.
Do I need meet the requirements of Section 3 of the GPL (requirement to
provide source) if I distribute libgcc or libstdc++ in shared library
form with my program?
Specifically, I am interested in the case when libgcc and libstdc++ are
compiled as MS Windows DLLs to be distributed with Windows programs
compiled with GCC. Windows GCC tends to be used by very small shops
writing programs available for free or for a small charge. It is the
common case that their programs will be distributed by making them
available for download over the web, in situations where it is almost
certainly unacceptable to include source code. It may also be
unacceptably burdensome on the program author to fulfill the requirement
of physically mailing the source code to third parties. (The GPL FAQ
indicates that allowing the source to be downloadable by FTP is
insufficient; however, this seems a little strange. Perhaps the FAQ is
out-of-date on this point?)
For comparison, MSVC++ is the dominating compiler on this platform. It
is downloadable free of charge, for unlimited use, and with no
particular obligations regarding distributing source code or source code
offers. In addition, most of the source code for the MS equivalent to
libgcc is also available free of charge as a download. There is also no
particular restriction on the distribution of these libraries in shared
form, as this is the default case.
If the answer to my primary question is "yes," it will almost certainly
be the case that GCC will be unable to compete with MSVC. In this case,
maintainers of GCC for Windows have to choose between a compiler that is
uncompetitive (and the almost certain case that many people will
unintentionally infringe, which is unacceptable), or a GCC port that
will be unable implement certain features required for correct
I realize the possible fruitlessness of asking for legal advice from a
developer mailing list. However, quite honestly, I do not have anywhere
else to turn. I do not employ a lawyer, nor is there even the remotest
possibility I would be able to afford one. It seems likely to me,
however, that some people who read this message do have lawyers who have
answered this question, or were perhaps involved in writing the licenses
themselves, or in some other way may be able to help me.
In the case that I do not receive a definitive answer in response to
this message, how may I best contact the FSF with regards to this issue?
Is there a person on the staff who would be able to help me with these
sorts of problems?
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Aaron W. LaFramboise
PS. The text of the libgcc license, the libstdc++ license, and the GNU
/* Copyright (C) 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999,
2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This file is part of GCC.
GCC is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under
the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free
Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at your option) any later
In addition to the permissions in the GNU General Public License, the
Free Software Foundation gives you unlimited permission to link the
compiled version of this file into combinations with other programs,
and to distribute those combinations without any restriction coming
from the use of this file. (The General Public License restrictions
do apply in other respects; for example, they cover modification of
the file, and distribution when not linked into a combine
GCC is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY
WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or
FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License
for more details.
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with GCC; see the file COPYING. If not, write to the Free
Software Foundation, 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA
02111-1307, USA. */
// Copyright (C) 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
// This file is part of the GNU ISO C++ Library. This library is free
// software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the
// terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the
// Free Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at your option)
// any later version.
// This library is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
// but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
// MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the
// GNU General Public License for more details.
// You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along
// with this library; see the file COPYING. If not, write to the Free
// Software Foundation, 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307,
// As a special exception, you may use this file as part of a free software
// library without restriction. Specifically, if other files instantiate
// templates or use macros or inline functions from this file, or you
// this file and link it with other files to produce an executable, this
// file does not by itself cause the resulting executable to be covered by
// the GNU General Public License. This exception does not however
// invalidate any other reasons why the executable file might be covered by
// the GNU General Public License.
The GPL is availible at: