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I want to deploy a SaaS application (Licensed GNU GPLv3) and offer to 3rd parties with my own pricing model. I have few doubts with respect to the license and future development on the same.

  1. Can i deploy the SaaS code and earn money through my pricing model?
  2. Can i make styling changes on the existing code?
  3. Can i remove attribution from the footer (Powered by x) from all pages and provide credits within a dedicated page?
  4. If i create additional modules / enhancements on the application, do i need to open source them? I have scenarios where some of my clients want few specific customization on the application, which they're not willing to make open. I'll not share the code, will enable such module for specific clients.
  5. If i need to open source, can i do it on-demand rather than publishing on github?
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The requirements of the GPL are fairly simple:

  • Any modifications, enhancements or additional modules must be licensed under the GPL (and use only code under a GPL-compatible license).
  • Anyone who receives a copy of the application code has the right to receive the source code. This source code will be distributed under the terms and conditions of the GPL license.
  • There is no requirement to distribute anything to the general public (unless you choose to make your application downloadable for the general public).

This means that as long as you offer your application only as a SaaS offering, you don't have to publish anything. If you provide a copy to a customer to run on-site, then that customer gets the right to have a copy of the source code of their version under the GPL license. If you choose your customers wisely, the chances are low that they will then use that copy to start competing with you.

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