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Now I'm seriously wondering if npm is a goldmine for GPL infringement. If someone has an insane dependency tree with 1000 entries then there is bound to be at least some GPL in there forcing everything else to be GPL too.

Exactly--there's a great bug thread on the Atom text editor where they laboriously dug through hundreds and perhaps even thousands of dependencies to see if any had licenses that were incompatible with theirs. It looked like a complete nightmare and you can see the end result if you go to the View License menu in the editor--it's hundreds of little licenses.

With 1000 of dependencies, I would be much more worried that one of them are proprietary licensed (or was ripped from a place with no copyright license attached and then had a new license added the original authors permission). Imagine distributing a "$100 per use" software for a few years without paying, and how the court system would react.

I guess this is why debian takes licenses so serious.

Sadly, there's nothing insane about 1000 entries when it comes to npm. That's the reality of pretty much any non-trivial project, especially with React and Babel.

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