GPL license: how does it cover the output of a program?

This is a discussion on GPL license: how does it cover the output of a program? within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; In a game project i've been working on, Quake3 BSP files are being imported into the engine for further editing ...

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    The Right Honourable psychopath's Avatar
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    GPL license: how does it cover the output of a program?

    In a game project i've been working on, Quake3 BSP files are being imported into the engine for further editing These BSP files have been generated by Q3Radiant, which, as I understand, is available under the GPL license.

    The GPL license reads:
    Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program). Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.
    What i'm trying to figure out, is if I'm able to use these BSP files, which are the output of Q3Radiant, as a part of a commercial project?
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    Banned SniperSAS's Avatar
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    use em anyway and stick it to the man, son

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    My guess is that the BSP files do not contain some version of Q3Radiant, so they would not have to be licensed under the GPL.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice/opinion.
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    Crazy Fool Perspective's Avatar
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    >the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program

    This sounds to me like they would be GPL, IANAL though, post to the mailing list of the project.

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    S Sang-drax's Avatar
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    Of course they aren't GPL. If I write a book using OpenOffice it certainly does not have to be released as GPL.
    Last edited by Sang-drax : Tomorrow at 02:21 AM. Reason: Time travelling

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    Crazy Fool Perspective's Avatar
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    >If I write a book using OpenOffice it certainly does not have to be released as GPL.

    Thats different, your book isnt a "work based on the program". A bsp generated by a bsp generating program seems like it might be. I dunno though,

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    A bsp generated by a bsp generating program seems like it might be.
    As far as I can tell (with respect to my disclaimer), it isnt, unless the BSP file generated is itself some modified version of the BSP file generator.
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    Crazy Fool Perspective's Avatar
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    If the program uses templates to generate the BSP, then those templates are GPL. And anything derived from the template is a derivative of a GPL file AFAIK, a "work based on the program".

    my disclaimer still stands too though

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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    If the program uses templates to generate the BSP, then those templates are GPL. And anything derived from the template is a derivative of a GPL file AFAIK, a "work based on the program".
    I agree, if those templates can be considered part of Q3Radiant, assuming Q3Radiant actually does this.
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    S Sang-drax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perspective
    If the program uses templates to generate the BSP, then those templates are GPL.
    OpenOffice also uses templates. I see no legal difference here.
    Last edited by Sang-drax : Tomorrow at 02:21 AM. Reason: Time travelling

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    Crazy Fool Perspective's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sang-drax
    OpenOffice also uses templates. I see no legal difference here.
    Thats true, looks like your gonna have to open source that book after all

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    The GPL usually covers the source code of an application and not the data it uses which is not considered a part of the application. So even if Q3Radiant uses templates to create BSPs then those templates probably weren't considered part of the application at least not as far as the GPL is concerned.

    An example of output being under the GPL would be a compiler or other application generation software which includes GPL'd libraries in the output.
    Last edited by Quantum1024; 05-23-2006 at 11:16 PM.

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    Crazy Fool Perspective's Avatar
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    >The GPL usually covers the source code of an application and not the data it uses

    Actaully the GPL covers many other things that are not source code, like output, buildfiles and other tools used in the release and production of the packages. (for example, the rpm and rpmbuild tools need to be GPL in order for them to be used to build and release GPL apps).

    You really need to ask the Q3Radiant people, and post the answer back here to satisfy our curiosity.

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    Registered User Jaqui's Avatar
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    Another analogy for the question.
    use Open Office Writer to create a letter, print the letter and mail it to a friend, the output is not a GNU-GPL document.

    output, unless it includes 100% gnu-gpl content, is not automatically forced to be under the gnu-gpl. I can use any gnu-gpl program and create or modify any valid content for the program, and use it under ANY license I choose. I can even write an application, linked to glibc, and release it under a commercial license. the only part of the application that falls under the gnu=gpl is the base libs, and they are actually licensed under the lgpl to allow for commercial use of them.

    so to answer the question, output is not forced to be under the gnu-gpl, unless it includes 100% gnu-gpl licenced data to begin with. if the BSP is under a commercial license at the beginning, then the edited file is still under the same license.


    The above is accurate, for version 2 of the gnu-gpl. I did extensive research into the gnu-gpl for exactly this type of usage a few years back. I have not done an in-depth examination of version 3 of the gnu-gpl. From my understanding of it, the anti proprietary / anti drm section is focussed on excluding drm / proprietary code in gnu-gpl software, not on making output fall under the gnu-gpl.
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    If the average user can put a CD in and boot the system and follow the prompts, he can install and use Linux. If he can't do that simple task, he doesn't need to be around technology.

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    Crazy Fool Perspective's Avatar
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    >I can use any gnu-gpl program and create or modify any valid content for the program, and use it under ANY license I choose.

    By "content" I hope you don't mean source code, because modifying GPL source is certainly considered "derivative work" and is definately covered by the GPL.

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