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license question

From: Peter Gavin
Subject: license question
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2013 06:04:26 -0400


Since I'm not sure where else to ask this question, I'll ask it here:

I'm working on a project that uses the m4sugar.m4 file included with
autoconf to generate files using m4.  I'd like to license my project using
a BSD-style 2-clause license, rather than GPLv3 (with the exception of the
m4sugar.m4 file, which will be distributed under the terms of the GPLv3 as
required).  I several questions regarding this:

1. Can I license my source files with the BSD license even though they call
macros from m4sugar? (I can't think of a reason this isn't a "yes",

2. Must any generated files (as produced by running m4 on my files which
m4_include m4sugar.m4) be distributed under GPL3?  (I'm assuming the
Autoconf exception as documented at applies, since
m4sugar is part of Autoconf, so this would be a "no".)

3. My project generates source code.  Can binaries compiled from this
source code be distributed under the terms of the BSD license?  (Since I'm
assuming the Autoconf exception applies, I'm also assuming this is a "yes".)

4. Will distributions of either only the generated source code or only
binaries compiled from that source code require distribution of the
m4sugar.m4 file? (I'm assuming this is a "no".)

Are my assumptions correct?  If I distribute a tarball that includes the
GPL3 licensed m4sugar.m4, my BSD-licensed sources, and some source files
generated using all of these, the GPL3 would only apply to m4sugar.m4 and
nothing else in the tarball, is that correct?  I'm not personally planning
on distributing binaries at the moment, but if I or someone else were to
distribute them in the future, is it correct to assume that only my BSD
license would apply?

If it matters, I haven't modified m4sugar.m4 at all.  I've just copied it
into my source tree. If I did happen to modify it, I do understand that the
modified file would still be GPL3.


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