[vlc-devel] close source plugin for vlc

Rémi Denis-Courmont rdenis at simphalempin.com
Thu Apr 24 21:14:58 CEST 2008


Below is my interpretation, not any kind of legal advice.
I am not a qualified lawyer under any jurisdiction.

Le Thursday 24 April 2008 21:42:44 Michael Gao, vous avez écrit :
> Checking the possibility here, not to ruin the Open Source spirit in any
> regard. ;-)
> With that said, does vlc allow close source codec plugins?

Assumed that "close source" means released to third parties without source 
code. Assumed that "plugins" mean using the VLC/LibVLC plugins API. 
Therefore, assumed that plugins are derivative works of fore-mentioned API. 
Assumed that the last versions of the GNU General Public License is version 

Then, close source plugins are in explicit violation of the only currently 
valid copyright license for VLC. Or such is my understanding.

> or codec plugins linking with close-source libs?

That depends. Just reading the GNU GPL version 2:

If said libraries are _not_ provided along with any such plugins, it seems OK. 
More generally, if the libraries "can be reasonably considered independent 
and separate works in themselves", it should also be OK.

If said libraries are "modules" of the plugins, then it is a violation.

Concretely, if can ship a GPL'd plugin, so long as you don't ship the closed 
source lib, it works. That's why VLC can use (proprietary) Windows codecs - 
on any i386 platform. Symmetrically, you can ship the closed source lib, so 
long as you don't ship the GPL'd codec.

You can also ship both alongside, if the libs is not at all a derivative of 
VLC. For instance, I believe that a plugin for the Fluendo/gstreamer codecs 
would be legally OK. I would be morally OK with such things, but I cannot 
speak for the other copyright holders.

Rémi Denis-Courmont

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