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I have an affiliate marketing client who needs to know if I can program this. Can I do one or both of the following scenarios without violating the GPL license?

Scenario A: Make a software installer for a GPL licensed product which includes source, binaries, and license info. The installer also has a checkbox for installing optional software that's payware. (In this case, the payware is free crippleware, but has a registration upsell to provide more features.) The two products will not share libraries or anything else.

Scenario B: Same as A, but reversed. So, the installer installs the payware, but there's a checkbox to also install the GPL software. And, again, when you install the GPL software, it comes with binaries, source, and license info.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You need to more accurately define what you mean by "payware" here; on the face of it it reads as though you're referring to commercial software, and the GPL itself is actually quite cool about commercial exploitation - there's nothing to stop your "payware" from also being licensed under the GPL for example, which would side-step the problem entirely.

That aside, I believe that your question is (at least partially) answered by the following GPL FAQ entry:

An “aggregate” consists of a number of separate programs, distributed together on the same CD-ROM or other media. The GPL permits you to create and distribute an aggregate, even when the licenses of the other software are non-free or GPL-incompatible. The only condition is that you cannot release the aggregate under a license that prohibits users from exercising rights that each program's individual license would grant them.

Having the same installer used for both GPL and non-GPL software muddies things a little, but the easy solution seems to be to just use separate installers.

All of this comes with a standard "I am not a lawyer" disclaimer and advice that if you have a legal concern over this then you would be better served by consulting a qualified legal professional than by asking some random guy on the internet.

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