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Query on wireshark terms/license

asked 2020-05-05 11:45:50 +0000

  1. We are building an X application that will personalise the wireshark (using some secure handshake mechanism). Which means the wireshark code will be modified.

  2. We are building a Y application that uses tshark. Tshark code is not modified but application uses tshark by instantiating existing tshark as is.

Now I have questions related to wireshark GPL license.

For case 1, do we have to publish the changes that we make to wireshark? I think we have to, but it will be good to get a confirmation. Does this also mean that we need to publish the source code (or binary) of X application?

For case 2, is it obligatory to publish the source code (and/or binary) of Y application?

If we must publish our code, is there a mandate on some specific ways to publish the source code (binary) such as maintaining github project ?

While I went through the license page, I could not get clarity on this.

Thanks in advance. Amit

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answered 2020-05-05 15:56:06 +0000

Jaap gravatar image

Everything is based in the GPL version 2. What it comes down to is that it's a license on distribution, i.e., if you distribute modified code, you are required to provide the modified source code.

Now, issue 1 is: does the GPLv2 apply? That is defined by the term 'derived work'. In short, anything you change in the program, or link to the program is governed by this license.

Second issue is: are you distributing it? Do you make the modified program available for others (outside your company)? If yes, then the provisions in the license apply.

The third issue is: how to provide the modified source code? Also here the GPLv2 states that you must offer to provide the modified source code for no more than the cost it takes to provide it. This gives you a lot of freedom on how to do it, but you must make the offer for the duration stated.

So that's it. Oh, and the license also applies to the changes you make to the GPL'd program as well.

It looks like case 1 you're making a derived work, so yes, all provision of the GPLv2 apply. I'm not sure how application X interacts with your modified Wireshark version. If it's through 'normal Operating System mechanisms', like a pipe or shared file, than the GPL does not extend across that interface. Code linked (either dynamic or static) to Wireshark is covered by the GPL.

It looks like case 2 is about using the GPL'd program, but not changing or linking to it. The GPL does not apply to the program input or output, so that is a way it use it without your own program being affected by the GPL. It's sometimes called 'at arm's length'.

And to be sure: I Am Not A Lawyer, so these statements have no value in itself.

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Thanks for the response.

amit_wireshark gravatar imageamit_wireshark ( 2020-05-07 15:57:45 +0000 )edit

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Asked: 2020-05-05 11:45:50 +0000

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Last updated: May 05