Let's say there is an analytics suite Foobarize. Authors of it have it released under GPL to promote collaboration and research and advance mankind and all that good stuff.

But they would also like to have binaries available under a non-GNU license for commercial applications that black-box it. Is there anything they should be worried about?

  • 3
    This is often called "dual licensing". If the authors have written all of the source code, they can license it as many times under as many different licenses as they want.
    – Brandin
    Jun 21, 2019 at 16:43
  • Of course since it is 100% theirs they get to release it however and whenever they want. How about say the non-GNU availability providing a loophole for someone to use the source code directly?
    – Layman
    Jun 21, 2019 at 18:11
  • What do you mean by a 'loophole'? If you don't want people to have the source code at all, why are you considering the GPL at all?
    – Brandin
    Jun 21, 2019 at 18:48
  • I misworded hat, I meant that as in justifying derived content unreleased
    – Layman
    Jun 21, 2019 at 19:03
  • 2
    For better answers you might consider elaborating a bit on what your possible worries are. If you give an example situation that you are somehow worried might arise, then someone can respond to that and say how likely that is with the GPL, for example.
    – Brandin
    Jun 21, 2019 at 19:19

1 Answer 1


Is there anything they should be worried about?

No. The practice you described is called dual licensing and is not uncommon for open source projects offered by commercial entities.

In a comment you mentioned a fear that the closed-source offer could be used to somehow circumvent the GPL requirements on the open-source version, but that is not possible.
If someone receives a copy of Foobarize, then they receive that copy with one particular license attached to it and they have to follow the conditions set out in that license. Once you have chosen to receive code under license A, it becomes completely irrelevant which other license options are offered for that code.

  • A prime example of this is Qt.
    – S.S. Anne
    Jun 22, 2019 at 21:12

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