I am planning to be a Udemy instructor to make money. As you predict, I need softwares such as OS, Hypervisor, IDE, web browser, screen video recorder, etc. That's why, I'll use/run open source softwares for the courses I'll prepare to not encounter violation of law.

However, I am not sure whether using open source software for this purpose is legal or not.

  • Could I ask that you stop editing your questions after they've been answered and an answer accepted, whether such edits are cosmetic or substantive? In the former case, it pops them back up to the top of the front page when there's no reason for them to need any further user attention, and in the latter case it risks invalidating portions of existing answers. Thanks! – MadHatter Dec 19 '20 at 7:58

Software published under a Free or Open Source license do not put any restrictions on how the software can be used - that is one of the fundamental freedoms in both the Free Software Definition and the Open Source Definition.

However that doesn't mean that your actions using FOSS software can't be illegal. It is illegal to commit fraud, identity theft, piracy, etc, whether you are using open source or proprietary software.


"Open source" is a vague description of a kind of license where the actual source code is made freely available provided that you meet certain conditions (ones other than "pay me some money"). To know exactly what you can and cannot do, you have to read the terms of the license. This license (CC-NC 4.0) disallows commercial use, whereas this license (CC-BY 4.0) allows commercial use. Before abandoning hope, you have to read the actual license, because CC-NC says that

NonCommercial means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation. For purposes of this Public License, the exchange of the Licensed Material for other material subject to Copyright and Similar Rights by digital file-sharing or similar means is NonCommercial provided there is no payment of monetary compensation in connection with the exchange.

Turns out that they mean "you can't re-sell this software", not "you can't use this software in your job, you can only use it for personal entertainment".

There are many licenses purporting to be "open", so you just have to read the license and see what the license says.

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    The Open Source Definition explicitly prohibits discrimination based on field of use. So, any license that does not allow using the software for "any purpose" is by definition not an open source license, as the term is commonly understood and defined. The license examples you chose are not very good examples, because a) the OP is asking about open source and neither of the two licenses is open source, and b) the OP is asking about software and neither of the two licenses are software licenses (in fact, Creative Commons explicitly discourages their use for software). – Jörg W Mittag Dec 15 '20 at 20:22
  • Your argument is irrelevant in that no Board of Open Source authorities has the legal power to prevent a person from using the term "Open Source". When the term "Open Source" becomes legally regulated (in some jurisdiction) then one might rely on such a correlation. Recall the unregulated use of the term "organic" decades ago. – user6726 Dec 15 '20 at 20:27
  • It's illegal to use open source software for illegal things. But that's not a requirement which comes from the software's license, but one which comes from the law of the jurisdiction you are in. – planetmaker Dec 15 '20 at 22:52
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    As a moderator of OpenSource.SE, I want to point out (to this answerer and to all other readers), this question was originally answered on Law.SE, which obviously has different standards and prioritizes concerns relevant to legal consideration. On this site (where the question has now been migrated), we use "open source" as a term of art meaning "in compliance with the OSI's Open Source Definition" (which is a standard this answer could not have been expected to meet when written on Law.SE but nevertheless fails to meet here). – apsillers Dec 16 '20 at 3:37
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    That said, an answer that warns of many definitions of "open source" in the world and cautions to make sure the OSI's is what's being used to describe a given piece of software is a perfectly good answer within this site's parameters. The key element this answer from Law.SE currently lacks is consideration of the headline question ("Is it legal to use open source software for any purpose?") which here ought to be understood as a definitional question of what the OSI's definition allows and requires. – apsillers Dec 16 '20 at 4:03

Yes, you can use open source softwares for this purpose no matter under which license it is. There are some changes in the license for Europe but I don't think that they had put any restriction for such uses.

Assuming you will use a software which is under GPL, LGPL, MOZILLA, ECLIPSE, BSD, MIT license.

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    "...according to me" is not a legal citation; where do you cite an open source license that allows use of software as a teacher, or cite Udemy's EULA/TOS? – BlueDogRanch Dec 15 '20 at 14:43
  • The question was for open source softwares. It must be under GPL, LGPL, MOZILLA, ECLIPSE, BSD, MIT license. Almost every open source is under one of these. And these license do permit. – Palash Tekam Dec 15 '20 at 14:47
  • "no matter what license" or "these licenses allow it and almost everything is under one", which is it? – motosubatsu Dec 15 '20 at 15:17
  • The op does not provide information about which softwares he would use. These license are widely used. There are others that make up a very small fraction ( e.g. custom license ) and hence unrecognised. – Palash Tekam Dec 15 '20 at 15:25

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