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GPL license questions

Having just asked a “legal” question, I’m told that this is actually out of scope. Thinking about it, I fail to really understand why: licensing and copyright issues are not only stuff programmers have to deal with, but failing to take these issues into consideration can have serious consequences for themselves and their company/OSS project.

I do understand that (most) SO punters are no solicitors, so answers should be taken with much precaution, and bear the usual NAL disclaimer, but with all the open source projects out there, I would think that some programmers have already had experience with dealing with legal matters and therefore are in a position to provide a satisfying answer (satisfying in that they provide leads, nobody expects actual legal advice). If not, there is a serious gap here -- and it kind of makes you wonder how many open-source projects out there are not legit...

  • One person told you that it was off topic and voted to close.. at least wait until more do Nov 28, 2010 at 12:38
  • Indeed, but having researched other questions on similar topics, there seems to be a sizable group of users who think these questions don’t belong on SO -- I just wanted to know if this was the general policy or not. Nov 28, 2010 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


From the FAQ:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Stack Overflow is for professional and enthusiast programmers, people who write code because they love it. We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • matters that are unique to the programming profession

… then you're in the right place to ask your question!

Please look around to see if your question has already been asked (and maybe even answered!) before you ask. It's also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question, as long as you pretend you're on Jeopardy: phrase it in the form of a question. What kind of questions should I not ask here?

Avoid asking subjective or argumentative questions. If you must ask a subjective question, make sure it meets the six guidelines for great subjective questions, or it will be closed.

Legal issues aren't directly covered, but they may sometimes be subjective and/or argumentative. Very few of the people on SO, etc. are lawyers, so:

  1. As you've already noted, you shouldn't rely on the advice.
  2. People on the sites probably don't want to read a lot of legal questions.
  • 1
    subjective/argumentative for sure, and yet they subjectively/argumentatively meet the six guidelines of great subjective questions! As to whether people wouldn’t want too many legal questions, I am sure there is also a subjectively/argumentatively good few who don’t want to see android questions, but yet manage to live with it! ;-) Nov 28, 2010 at 14:03

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