I have a question to somebody who is expert about "GNU General Public License version 2.0" license.

I am making program and my code is using another program ("HoboCopy") inside which have this one license. I downloaded just a .exe of this one program and I am wondering if its ok with license if my boss will sell program which I made without code of course, he wants to sell it like a normal program, just .exe to use.

I checked out for question like that, and no matches. Sorry I know that in a big licence documentary is probably wroten answer for my question, but forgive me, that I dont want to read it all, maybe somebody already know it and can tell me or eventually tell me the exactly piece of licence documentary where I can found answer for my question.

Thanks in advance.

EDIT: After published my post I read this one: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/11057715/gnu-general-public-license-as-part-of-commercial-product?rq=1. Looks like I got answer that he can sell it. And I dont have to give my source, and HoboCopy source (even I dont have it).

Just maybe somebody can make me sure.

  • This seems a bit... hinky. You might want to spend a few hundred dollars and consult a licensing lawyer before doing this; it's cheap insurance. Jul 22, 2013 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


You should read carefully terms 2 and 3 of the GPL v2 as they directly relate to your question. You should also consult with a lawyer (IANAL).

It is unclear in your question how your program relates to hobocopy.exe. There are three possibilities:

  1. If your software does not include hobocopy.exe and the users must download/install it from somewhere to use your program, then your program does not need to be licenced as GPL and you do not have to distribute the sources of your program or those of hobocopy.exe.
  2. If your software does include hobocopy.exe as a clearly separated component that your code uses as an external program (e.g. in Java, Runtime.getRuntime().exec(params)), then your program does not need to be licenced as GPL and you do not have to distribute the sources of your program, but you must distribute the sources of hobocopy.exe (if you distribute GPL software you must distribute the sources too).
  3. If your software merges somehow with hobocopy.exe, even just creating a wrapper around it, in a way that the separation is not clear or they cannot "reasonably [be] considered independent and separate works in themselves", then your program can be considered a derived work and therefore must be licenced as GPL, and you must distribute the source code of your program and of HoboCopy. You can still charge for it, though, and "sell it like a normal program". The GPL does not prevent you from charging for the software, it only prevents you from distributing the binaries without the sources.
  • This does make me curious about A) Flash Builder, a modification of Eclipse sold by Adobe. This actually might be why Eclipse isn't under GPL. B) Any webserver product, which runs off of Apache or Tomcat, but contains lots and lots of proprietary code (and doesn't ask the client to set up Apache/Tomcat on their own).
    – Katana314
    Jul 22, 2013 at 23:19
  • 1
    AFAIK, neither of Eclipse, Apache, or Tomcat are licensed as GPL. They are covered by the Eclipse and Apache licenses.
    – sergut
    Jul 22, 2013 at 23:22
  • no wonder many of the other licenses are becoming more popular. (For the most part, it's probably just different use cases)
    – Katana314
    Jul 22, 2013 at 23:22
  • I am curious: how do you measure popularity of licenses? Is there any kind of online statistical resource about this?
    – sergut
    Jul 22, 2013 at 23:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.