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Institute for Legal Questions on Free and Open Source Software

VI. Derivative Work

Is a program that forks a GPL-licensed program via a system or vice versa call derivative work?

An application runs a GPL-licensed program via a system call (system(), popen() or fork()/execvp() and friends). The GPL program is generating data that the application is reading and processing or, alternatively, that are made available when the application is exiting. Is this system call of a GPL-licensed program sufficient to assume derivative work of the application and must the application, therefore, also be licensed under the GPL?
Normally not.
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