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If I install a library on my system (let's say it's called libfoo and it is under the BSD license), then include the header in my program (in the public domain) and link the program to libfoo, is that legal?

It seems like it would be, since no library code is actually getting included in my final binary.

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    Have you considered asking on Open Source?
    – Zizouz212
    Feb 12 '17 at 16:38
  • Agree with Zizouz212; the nuances of static vs dynamic linking of libraries matter, and this isn't the best site for that.
    – MSalters
    Feb 12 '17 at 22:34
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You need to check what license the library comes with. The fact that you want to create a public domain program doesn't give you any rights to any library.

So read the BSD license and see what it tells you whether and how you can use the library. For example, if you used a GPL-licensed library, you could not put your program in the public domain legally.

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  • I'm not including any part of said library in the final program. I simply call the library. It's analogous to a shell script which runs ls, for example. If the ls was GPL-licensed (as many of them are), then the script would be illegal. But does it work different for binaries vs. scripts? Feb 12 '17 at 14:03

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