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Apple takes over CUPS, Unix printing software

Apple acquires the copyright to the Common Unix Printing System, but it doesn't have to abide by its open-source license terms.

Apple has acquired the source code for CUPS, an open-source project for managing printing on Unix and Linux systems.

Michael Sweet, CUPS author and an owner of the company Easy Software Products that owned the CUPS software copyright, said last week that Apple hired him and acquired the copyright in February.

CUPS, which stands for the Common Unix Printing System, will continue to be released under the General Public License (GPL) and Lesser GPL (LGPL) licensing terms. However, Apple has an exception from the terms of the license.

"Software that is developed by any person or entity for an Apple Operating System...that is linked to the CUPS imaging library or based on any sample filters or backends provided with CUPS shall not be considered to be a derivative work or collective work based on the CUPS program and is exempt from the mandatory source code release clauses of the GNU GPL," according to the CUPS list of frequently asked questions. "This exception is only available for Apple OS-Developed Software and does not apply to software that is distributed for use on other operating systems."