We would like to create a web app that is accessed publicly. The code for Berkeley DB is not modified. the code for the web app will not be downloaded or shared with other groups,but is simply accessed in the standard client-server manner via a browser or REST client.

Can we use Berkeley DB JE open source for his purpose? I am specifically confused with what "redistribution" means (at that seems to be the crux of the issue here).

Berkeley DB docs says the following:

The term "redistribution" in the Open Source License means your application is distributed to one or more third parties. Giving an application to customers, even in alpha or beta releases, is redistribution. Giving contractors, affiliates, parent organizations or subsidiaries, business partners or support vendors a copy of the application is generally redistribution.


1 Answer 1


Looking at the actual license of Berkeley DB Java Edition, it's just the Apache 2.0 license. If the code for your web service never enters the storage drive of someone else's computer or otherwise ends up physically in their possession, you have no distribution-related obligations because distribution is not taking place.

This is in contrast to the AGPL 3 license that applies to Berkeley DB (not Java Edition), which does impose coplyleft source-sharing obligations when you allow users to interact with the software over a network. (Whether or not the use of an AGPL database service by a Web service extends AGPL obligations to that Web service is a difficult question for me to answer and certainly merits a separate question.)

  • confusing that they are under different licenses, but good for those who use the JE.
    – adamM
    Mar 19, 2018 at 19:26

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