I have a project on Github that works with some external API. I don't want to publish my key so it's taken from config that is not made public. However, I want to use Travis to run end-to-end tests. Basically I'll encrypt my API key - and maybe something else - then Travis will decrypt that and use the result in running my tests.

Now, someone could just write a piece of code and keep source closed and distribute only the binary - or encrypted script that requires a key to be executed - without providing the actual source. That looks both questionable and somewhat similar to my situation.

Do any major open-source licenses discourage my case?

That Travis part better be open-source - because they provide free services for open-source projects. As of now, I am the only contributor and license is MIT so I don't see my particular case being a trouble. I'm more interested in case where license requires more from authors and/or users and where saying "we use WTFPL for Travis and %another_license% for everything else" is not an option.

Only small test-related piece is getting encrypted, not something end users are supposed to ever interact with (however, that is not stated anywhere).

1 Answer 1


AFAIK Travis, like GitHub, says "free for open source" but actually never checks that the project is licensed under an open source license. What they mean is free for anything that is public (open source being one very common special case). It's their problem to control that there is no abuse.

Technically anyone could use GitHub to distribute their binaries, even if the code is not shared (or if shared, without an open source license; and lots of people do that: you can very easily find repositories without a license on GitHub). Anyone using a public GitHub repository could then use Travis' services.

Now, if your actual question is Is there any major open source license forbidding to just distributing the binary and not the source under that license? then yes, there is. The GNU GPL license explicitly states that:

You may convey a covered work in object code form under the terms of sections 4 and 5, provided that you also convey the machine-readable Corresponding Source under the terms of this License

But it does not restrict what the original author of licensed work can do (cf. As owner of GPL library, can I break the licensing terms?). It restricts what recipients can do when modifying/distributing the work further.

As whether any open source license restricts what the users can do, no: such license would not be free or open source.

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