Does GPLv2 Include an ‘Installation Information’ Obligation? A Textual & Historical Analysis

McCoy Smith


One of the features included in version 3 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv3) was a requirement, in certain circumstances, to provide ‘Installation Information.’ To most, this was a new addition to the license to address a ‘loophole’ that existed in version 2 of the license (GPLv2); a loophole that was perceived as being exploited, at the time, by certain device vendors. Recently, it has been asserted that this requirement was inherent, or explicitly called for, in GPLv2. This paper examines the historical record around the time that the ‘Installation Information’ requirement was proposed, and eventually ratified, in GPLv3, to show that that requirement was understood to be both new, and not a part of GPLv2. A textual analysis of GPLv2 yields an identical result.


Law; information technology; Free and Open Source Software; GPLv2; GPLv3; ‘Installation Information’; Installation ‘Scripts’

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