I want to include two open-source libraries in my application: Ghostscript and iTextSharp.

In 3 commercial applications that I will develop myself:

  1. Commercial software will use both above two opensource software.
  2. Commercial software will use only iTextSharp.
  3. Commercial software will use iTextSharp along with another commercial software library for which I have the rights to distribute with my application. I bought the distribution license of that commercial library for US $1 just for the sake of having a legal distribution license. The owner is willing to help me use his software library in my application and distribute.

I am willing to open-source the parts of application that I wrote. I can forward the same license agreement in the distribution and can agree to specify the developer names etc in the software sold and willing do to anything needed to do except any payment for the opensource software libraries. Obviously I can't opensource that commercial library that I will use in the third software because I don't have its source code and I just have its distribution rights when I sell the third software which uses that commercial library.

I want to make money from the application that I wrote but can not purchase the commercial license of Ghostscript and iTextSharp because:

  1. Their commercial license are very expensive.
  2. I am willing to open source the applications that I will write.
  3. I am not sure if I will make any money from the applications that I will develop, so I don't have the means to pay for a commercial license and can not pay as of now.

So, please guide me if I can make all of the three software. If not, then can I make any one or two of the three?

2 Answers 2


You can distribute what you develop under several licences, probably by stating that the user gets to choose.

I'd advise against it, unless it is cleanly separate pieces that warrant different licenses. Please don't make life hard for downstream (it hurts yourself, in the end, if your software can't be used due to murky licensing issues, or some downstream picking one option and another the other, with the result that the branches can't be merged due to license mismatch), pick one of the standard licenses, and make sure you stay GPL compatible for software.


The AGPL licenses of GhostScript and iTextSharp require your application to be licensed under the AGPL as well. This allows options 1 and 2.

Option 3 is simply impossible without the expensive commercial iTextSharp license. You can't Open Source your whole application for the reason you already mentioned, you don't own all the IP.

In the end, the problem is that closed source and (A)GPL intentionally don't mix. You don't have a solid business case for your third app, but that's your problem - not iTextSharp's problem.


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