ExpressVPN, a free VPN service, embeds OpenVPN and LZO inside its iOS application.

These two pieces of software are both licensed under GPL. To my understanding, ExpressVPN must make source code available because of these licenses. I have emailed ExpressVPN asking for the source code of their iOS app, but they have not replied for multiple days.

Is ExpressVPN required to share the source code, or am I misunderstanding the GPL?

  • 3
    How is the communication between the proprietary software and the GPL components achieved? "Embeds" is not a term used within the GPL. Apr 3 '18 at 6:30
  • 1
    ExpressVPN distributes OpenVPN software inside their iOS app. I only know this from reading the acknowledgements section of the app. My phone isn’t jailbroken so I can’t do a thorough investigation of the app.
    – XMB5
    Apr 3 '18 at 23:50
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    Which source code do you refer to? Those of the iOS application or of OpenVPN and LZO?
    – user10225
    Apr 4 '18 at 5:16
  • Both the app and OpenVPN source code
    – XMB5
    Apr 4 '18 at 10:56
  • 1
    Then the answer to your question depends on how OpenVPM and LZO are embedded. Is ExpressVPN a derived work in the sense of the GPL? Then it would fall under the GPL, too.
    – user10225
    Apr 5 '18 at 7:32

It does not matter how GPL licensed software is interacting with other parts of the system. Since ExpressVPN distributes an application (the iOS application) which contains OpenVPN and LZO, they must make available the source code.

Take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses, search for available.

  • You are referring to the source code of OpenVPN and LZO, right? OP seems to (also) ask about the source code of ExpressVPN’s iOS app itself. What about this? (I think your answer would be improved by mentioning this / making it explicit.)
    – unor
    Apr 4 '18 at 3:36
  • I think “source code” refers to at least the ExpressVPN source code because of this gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLInProprietarySystem
    – XMB5
    Apr 4 '18 at 20:38

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