Say a part of the JavaScript which is provided to the client's browser is under GPL. Does this mean that server-side code also has to be made public under GPL as well?

The GPL states:

"You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License."

It seems to me that since the whole web app will not be complete without the client-side code, it can be considered to "contain" the client-side code, and thus the server-side code is also a part of the whole "work" defined here.

  • The GPL only applies to someone who obtained some right from that license. If, for example, the server-side code was written by someone who didn't need any rights that the GPL might give them, then it doesn't matter what the GPL said as nobody with any ability to grant rights to that code agreed to the GPL's terms. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 2:39

1 Answer 1


Lawyers have told me than in most cases the GPL of a JavaScript library running in the browser does not impact the code running on the server side.... within reason: for instance if you use something like meteor where the code runs either on the server or the client, this may not apply. Or for instance if you modified the JS library to interface with your custom back-end, this may not apply.


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