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Google said that

“As an open-source platform, Android is built upon the collaboration of the open-source community,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. “In our upcoming release of Android, we plan to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services. Google has long worked with and contributed to the OpenJDK community, and we look forward to making even more contributions to the OpenJDK project in the future.”

And they imported OpenJDK files as a part of the project. OpenJDK is under a GPL license.

What parts of android will not have to be under the GPL? What about android apps?

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Ah, but OpenJDK is not under the GPL. It is under the GPL with the Classpath Exception. You can read more about the class path exception here.

Here's the bulk of the exception:

As a special exception, the copyright holders of this library give you permission to link this library with independent modules to produce an executable, regardless of the license terms of these independent modules, and to copy and distribute the resulting executable under terms of your choice, provided that you also meet, for each linked independent module, the terms and conditions of the license of that module. An independent module is a module which is not derived from or based on this library. If you modify this library, you may extend this exception to your version of the library, but you are not obligated to do so. If you do not wish to do so, delete this exception statement from your version.

What this means is that you are allowed to call methods and perform calls to the code covered by the GPL. But your own code will not be subject to the GPL, which is a near elimination of the 'viral copyleft' clause that the GPL is known for.

Because of this, Android code is not subject to the GPL. Android Apps are also free to independently license their own programs.

  • So basically it is a LGPL type license for java classes? – ivanivan Jun 2 '18 at 1:12
  • @ivanivan In essence, yes. But there are some differences, which this answer explores. – Zizouz212 Jun 3 '18 at 23:34

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