As of Bison version 1.24, we have changed the distribution terms for
yyparse to permit using Bison's output in non-free programs.
Formerly, Bison parsers could be used only in programs that were free
The other GNU programming tools, such as the GNU C compiler, have never had such a requirement. They could always be used for non-free software. The reason Bison was different was not due to a special policy decision; it resulted from applying the usual General Public License to all of the Bison source code.
The output of the Bison utility--the Bison parser file--contains a
verbatim copy of a sizable piece of Bison, which is the code for the
yyparse function. (The actions from your grammar are inserted
into this function at one point, but the rest of the function is not
changed.) When we applied the GPL terms to the code for
the effect was to restrict the use of Bison output to free software.
We didn't change the terms because of sympathy for people who want to make software proprietary. Software should be free. But we concluded that limiting Bison's use to free software was doing little to encourage people to make other software free. So we decided to make the practical conditions for using Bison match the practical conditions for using the other GNU tools.