3

Suppose I create software that uses a library licensed under the GPL. If I distribute the software including the library, the software would have to be licensed under the GPL as well. But what if I distribute the software without the GPL library? Can the software then be closed source?

For example, I could achieve this by distributing the software without the GPL library, and making it download the GPL library's object files (for dynamic linking) from a third-party source when the software first starts up. In this way, I am not "distributing" the GPL library, so I do not have to comply with the terms of the GPL. The software can then remain closed source. Does this violate the GPL?

Note: By "GPL", I mean the GPLv2 or GPLv3.

6

1 Answer 1

1

But what if I distribute the software without the GPL library? Can the software then be closed source?

No, your software cannot be closed source.

If the executable that your end-user runs on their device contains any part that is subject to the GPL license, then that license requires that all parts are available under a license that grants the same rights as the GPL. This means that if you make use of a GPL-licensed library, then you must distribute your application under a GPL-compatible open-source license even if you don't distribute the library together with your application.

1
  • I am not sure if this applies to the library in the question, but it is worthwhile mentioning the "Linux-syscall-note" as an exception to the short generic answer. 2 days ago

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.