I am just curious about, what license should i use for app(android), i have written in my free time. I am using some libraries, which have this licenses on it:

  • Apache 2.0 license
  • MIT license
  • GNU Affero General Public License

1 Question: if i use this libraries, should my app be open source? I have no problem with making it open, but just not sure if i should do it. And if yes, what is the best of doing it? Just say it is open source, and that everyone can contact me for the source code? Or do i have to upload it somewhere (sourceforge, github)?

2 Question: if i use this libraries, am i able to sell my app? If not, am i able to make in app purchases to donate to me? As much i know the biggest problem would be the AGPL license. I use the library to create PDF files (iText). How should it be handled? Or can i make some features paid, but not that one, which are from the AGPL licensed library?

3 Question: what is the best license to use with my app in that case?

1 Answer 1


The AGPL is, just like the original GPL, a so-called "Viral License". When your program uses an AGPL library, then your whole program must be licensed under the AGPL. That means you must publish the sourcecode and you must give people permission to create and distribute derivative works under the AGPL.

See also the GPL FAQ about this:

Q: If a library is released under the GPL (not the LGPL), does that mean that any software which uses it has to be under the GPL or a GPL-compatible license?

A: Yes, because the software as it is actually run includes the library.

(technically this FAQ entry is about the GPL, not the AGPL, but the AGPL is an even stricter version of the GPL)

The sourcecode does not need to be part of the app, but when it is not, you must:

Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange;

Technically the AGPL does not prevent you from selling your app. Open source licenses do not forbid any money from changing hands. But unfortunately everyone who buys your app has the right to also sell your app or even give it away for free, so they can put your app onto the app store for free and there is nothing you can do about it.

Voluntary donations, on the other hand, can be a viable monetization model for open source.

  • 1
    note that agpl is called viral by google, who don't want to use the license mostly due to ignorance (as shown by incorrect term usage). that's basically because they would legally be obliged to offer their derivative work as open as what they got it from, and there's this wrong perception in the commercial market that you either can't make money once your rivals have full access to your code, or that they will have a competitive advantage over you. both are false assumptions, thanks to how well articulated agpl is, and the only issue is understanding this. lazy business men will be lazy.
    – cregox
    Jan 11, 2022 at 8:49

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