Does the GPL extend to file formats?



  • Is it against the GPL to write a library that does exactly what a GPL'd library does with the same file formats (such as writing a replacement for gettext that uses the same POT/PO formats) and release it under an open source license?



  • The traditional stance was that you are OK; binary compatibility is normally considered interoperability, which is allowed for protected IP. The current Googe/Oracle kerfluffle may cast a shadow if the current GPL'er asserts IP rights.



  • If you don't look at or use the code in any way, it's pretty unlikely that you'll have any issues. Especially if yours is also open source. Otherwise the LibreOffice people would be in a lot of trouble.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Jaime said:

    The current Googe/Oracle kerfluffle may cast a shadow if the current GPL'er asserts IP rights.

    Yeahhhh... that....


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Of course, if the FSF were to go round asserting that sort of thing, they'd probably have to stop supporting the ELF and COFF binary formats with their build chain (since you can be sure those formats aren't “GPLed”). Which would be the kiss of death for them as nobody else is going to accept a new binary format on a popular platform any time soon. :smile:


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