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I am working on a project that uses a C++ library licensed under CDDL v1.0. Ideally I would like to publish it commercially as well as keep it closed source (wouldn't mind open sourcing it but then it'd be hard to make any profit)

I know that I can distribute the app commercially, but it is not clear to me if I have to share the source code as well as licence my package with CDDL too.

What are the factors:

  • Does it matter that I modify the library or not? (I plan not to make any changes to the lib)

  • Static/Dynamic linking. does that have any effect? I do prefer to include the library within the final executable.

Yea.. so I guess my question is as follows:

Closed Source + CDDL licensed static lib = OK?

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CDDL is a “weak copyleft” license, roughly similar to the LGPL.

  • you are allowed to combine the CDDL covered software with your software, e.g. by static linking
  • your software will not fall under the CDDL
  • if you modify the CDDL-covered component, your modifications must be CDDL-licensed as well
    • you must also include a notice that identifies you as the contributor for this modification
  • when you distribute CDDL-covered software (whether standalone or linked with a larger software) you have to:
    • make the source code of the CDDL-covered software available
    • include a copy of the license with the source code
    • inform users how to acquire the source code for CDDL-covered components “in a reasonable manner on or through a medium customarily used for software exchange”
  • you are not required to distribute the executable form of the CDDL-covered software under the CDDL license, but may choose a different license, if:
    • you otherwise comply with the CDDL, and
    • the different license does not limits or alters the recipient's rights to the source code, and
    • you make it absolutely clear that the different license is offered by you alone, not by the initial developers or contributors of the CDDL-covered software.

To summarize all of this, having a proprietary software that includes a CDDL-covered library (no matter how it is linked) is perfectly fine. For example, you might take the following steps for compliance:

  • make the library source code available in a public GitHub repository under your control. If it's already available there, consider just forking it.
  • in your proprietary licensing agreement, note that parts of the software may be under open source licenses that provide additional permissions (and where to find more info about these components
  • in the included documentation of your software, include a list of all included open source components with their names, websites, copyright notices, and licenses. For the CDDL-covered components, note that the source code is available at a linked GitHub repository.
  • Alright, so it's less strict compared with LGPL, because if you statically link a LGPL library in your software, then the whole software has to be open source under LGPL as well. – Fanckush May 4 at 15:40
  • @Fanckush The LGPL does not require the software to be open sourced, it just requires that the end users have the freedom to modify the LGPL-covered components. That can also be managed by publishing the source under a proprietary license, or by publishing object files for relinking, or by dynamic linking. But yes, the CDDL is a bit more permissive. – amon May 4 at 16:52

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