A couple of the gems that I'm using in my rails backend are MIT licensed and I do want to go commercial with this app - that being said the MIT license requires that I include the copyright and license with any distributions correct? So do I have to package the copyright and license with my mobile app or just somewhere in my backend (seems pointless since noone will see the code)?? If so, what's the correct way to do this?

Are there any legal differences between a backend (SaaS) app that a front-end communicates with VS. a redistributed package?

What if the license was GPL on a gem? Must I then disclose my entire backend source?

To be clear, my goal here is to keep my code private given the nature of my application.

1 Answer 1


If you don't distribute the program, GPL's requirements don't come to play (unless you are talking AGPL). So in your SaaS you don't have to hand out source. If the front end only runs on your system (and it isn't downloaded by the users, as e.g. JavaScript or Java applets are), you are also in the clear. If a part of the system is meant to run on user's systems, if it contains GPL pieces it might have to be licensed under GPL. Details on when all of it is under GPL and when only the originally GPL part is GPL, or even if some other split applies, are quite murky.

Big fat warning: I am not your lawyer (or any type of lawyer in fact), and I certainly haven't looked into the complete details of your case, so I might be grievously mistaken.

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