I'm developing a video player and I want to use vlclib for android for better codec support.

I have some questions in mind regarding use of the library in my project.

  1. Would I violate anything if I use vlclib in my closed-source android app?

  2. Do I need to open-source my app in order to use it?

  3. Are there any provisions I need to comply with for using the library in my project?


According to the project's legal page,

Most pieces of software from VideoLAN are licensed under the GNU General Public License Version 2

So, to take your question by parts, and bearing in mind that IANAL/IANYL:

  1. Yes, you would violate the GPL;

  2. Yes; specifically, your app must be licenced under either GPLv2 or a licence which is at least as permissive (referred to as a compatible licence) - in my opinion, your life will be simplest if you pick GPLv2 also;

  3. Yes, you need to comply with all the provisions of GPLv2 with respect to the vlclib codebase, and all the provisions of the licence you choose (see part 2) with respect to the other parts of your product, assuming you wrote them all, and retain the copyright thereto.

Note that this analysis presumes that linking with a library creates a derivative work, and this has not yet (to my knowledge) been ruled on by a court. I wouldn't bet my house on it not doing so, though.

  • Can you tell me what the GPLv2 license is about and also how can I obtain it for my app? What does it cost? And one of my questions remain unanswered. Do I have to make my app open-source in order to use vlclib in it? – Shivam Arora Mar 30 '16 at 16:43
  • You can read the GNU GPL v2 and the GNU GPL v3. Your question 2 is pretty clearly dealt with in my answer above. I would note in passing that the term open source is ambiguous, and is best not used in licensing discussions. – MadHatter Mar 30 '16 at 21:36
  • By the term open source, I want to say do I have to release the source code of my app on a repository so that others can use it for their own projects? – Shivam Arora Apr 2 '16 at 6:24
  • @ShivamArora that was part 2 of your question. As part 2 of my answer says, yes, you do (modulo the issue of derivative works), and it must be made available under certain conditions. You will also need to examine your obligation to redistribute the vlclib code, from the same place. – MadHatter Apr 2 '16 at 6:28
  • @ShivamArora if you feel my answer has fully addressed your question, feel free to accept it by clicking the tick outline. My apologies if you already know about that! – MadHatter Apr 2 '16 at 7:01

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