Is it possible to use as optional dependency a GPL dependency in a commercial product?

My idea is to ask the user when installing my product if he wants to install a GPL dependency. Is it possible to do that?

  • I think we need to know a little more. Is the dependency a GPLed library against which your software is linked? Is it a separate package that you call from user space? How does this all work, because it makes a difference.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 13:45
  • The GPL dependency i am talking about is FFMPEG built with the GPL libraries. My idea was to call it, using its CLI. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 13:59
  • OK, thanks. Your question's title suggests you're going to ask the user to install ffmpeg themselves, but your question itself suggests that your product will do it after asking the user for confirmation. Could you clarify which of those you propose?
    – MadHatter
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 14:19
  • Thank your for trying to help me. I wish to know if it is legally possible to inform when installing my product the user about some features that will only be accessible with the GPL library. And ask him/her if he/she wants to install it or not. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


Closest example I have seen is with installing Audacity. Though Audacity is also open source the mp3 encoder used by it (lame) is of a non compatible license and requests user to manually install and provide path to it. As mentioned in the comments as long as it is not linked you should be fine to request the user to install any library. I feel the exception might be in the case of AGPL license. I am not sure about that. But that will really impact if it is a online application.

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