License text in finished built toolchain?

Yann E. MORIN yann.morin.1998@free.fr
Mon Apr 23 17:19:00 GMT 2012


Per, All,

Firts off, the usual disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, you should consult a
competent lawyer and/or your company's legal departement for definitive
advice.

On Friday 20 April 2012 10:16:00 Per Arnold Blaasmo wrote:
> If I use Crosstool-ng to build a GNU Toolchain and redistribute that
> with my own product.
> 
> Do we need to have the license files in the finished build tree?

That's my understanding that the license texts for GPL and LGPL components
be made available alongside with the distributed binaries. The same goes
with the license texts for the BSD-like components.

Whether you want to include these license texts in the same archive (a
tarball or any other packaging of your choice), or as files residing
side-by-side with the distributed archive, is up to you to decide.

I for one would suggest that you bundle in the same archive, because:
  - you have the guarantee that the recipient of the archive does get
    the license texts, without requiring additional downloads;
  - if you distribute the archive on a physical medium, you are sure
    that the license texts wil actually *be* on the distribution medium;
  - the license texts will follow any subsequent distribution of the
    archive, if the recipient chooses to do so.

> Should crosstool-ng copy those in to the finished tree?

That's my opinion that crostool-NG should *not* do that automatically
for you. There are a few reasons for my position:
  - you and/or your lawyer have to fully understand the licensing terms
    of each component, and decide and your own what those licenses imply;
  - some components are multi-licensed; for example part of gcc are
    GPLv3+ while some other parts are LGPLv3+;
  - the licensing terms for a specific component may vary with the
    version of this component; for example gcc 4.2 and earlier were GPLv2+
    and LGPv2.1+, while gcc 4.3 and later are GPLv3+ and LGPLv3+;
  - the licensing terms may change depending on the options you used
    when building the toolchain (I do not have a example coming to mind
    right now);
  - you anyway have to make available the complete and corresponding source
    code for the components that are used in the toolchain (at least those
    that are under copyleft licenses, such as GPL or LGPL).

So, in theory, crosstool-NG *could* copy some of the license texts for you,
but you would always have to manually check that the correct licenses have
been copied, and that nothing was missing, and that a license text that does
not apply was not copied.

> What about crosstool-ng's license?
> Do we need to add that to the finished built toolchain?

This is a tricky question.

The toolchain is generated by crosstool-NG, so the license of crosstool-NG
does *not* apply to the toolchain (the same way that the license of gcc
does not apply to the binary generated by gcc).

However, the license of crosstool-NG explicitly states that crostool-NG is
what the GPL names "scripts used to control compilation and installation
of the executable." In my understanding, for example in the gcc context,
this sentence applies to the scripts used to build gcc. I believe that
crosstool-NG is what the GPL refers to in the sentence quoted above.

So, it is my understanding that, if you distribute a toolchain built with
crosstool-NG, you have to pass the complete and corresponding source code
for the crosstool-NG you used to build said toolchain.

Also, it is my understanding that the crosstool-NG's .config file is part
of the afore-mentioned scripts, and that you have to distribute it as if
it were part of crosstool-NG. This is already done automatically for you
by crosstool-NG, which installs the script bin/<tuple>.ct-ng.config in
the toolchain install directory.

Also, do not forget that some components in the toolchain may also use a
.config-like file; for example uClibc has a .config file, so you must
provide it along with the uClibc sources, and eglibc can use config files
which you also must provide with eglibc's sources.

So, with respect to crosstool-NG, I would suggest that you put the archive
of the crosstool-NG you used, prominently side-by-side with the archive
of the toolchain you distribute.

You may of course decide to distribute a single archive with everything in
it:
  - the toolchain, in binary form
  - the crosstool-NG sources
  - the crosstool-NG's .config
  - the components' complete and corresponding source codes
  - the many license texts

Using an existing packaging scheme (eg. rpm and/or deb) /may/ make this easy
for you. YMMV, as they say.

Again, *none* of the was legal advice. You should really consult seek legal
advice from your lawyer and/or your company's legal departement.

Should you not know lawyers competent in the field, you may ask me, and I
would happily point you to some I know, and that you may be able to contract
to help you.

Regards,
Yann E. MORIN.

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