I have a question regarding FFmpeg binary distribution and libx265 and GPLv2/3

The FFmpeg documentation says that libx265 is GPLv2-or-later - https://www.ffmpeg.org/general.html#x265 - but the x265 project itself states it is GPLv2 (only) (when used in a Open Source project, and not using the commercial license) - https://www.x265.org/x265-licensing-faq/ . The practical implication of this for binary distribution, as understand it then (if the FFmpeg documentation is wrong), is that one can not release a distribution of FFMpeg under GPLv3 - only GPLv2, if including libx265. Or, Am I missing some reasoning regarding libx265 and FFmpeg binary distribution.

Note: for easier reasoning, let's avoid thinking about other libraries and their license, and just focus on using only libx265 with FFmpeg in a distribution.

  • 4
    Your reasoning is sound and you might want to raise an issue with ffmpeg regarding this Oct 20, 2021 at 23:11
  • 1
    Thanks for confirming that something is ambigoius, I added an isssue here just now, trac.ffmpeg.org/ticket/9466. Will update here when and If I get anyone to answer:)
    – Beamie
    Oct 21, 2021 at 9:51

1 Answer 1


It turned out that The FFmpeg documentation is correct here - libx265 is under GPLv2 or later, which means it can be used as in the use case example in the question - i.e under GPLv3!

However, a user has to look at the source code headers of the X265 code itself to be sure that it is "or-later" (and not "only") - so an suggestion issue was added to the project, that they add the "or-later" in their license FAQ. https://bitbucket.org/multicoreware/x265_git/issues/607/license-faq-enchancement-suggestion. Thanks for the input @planetmaker

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