I want to use a javascript library licensed under the GPLv3 for a new website I am building. I want my website to remain closed-source. The GitHub repository of the GPLv3 states that anyone using their library on a publicly facing website must open-source their entire website, but I believe this may be incorrect. If I pull in their library separately from the rest of my javascript bundle, so that it is distinct and clear that I am using an unmodified version, which includes their copyright text, and that isn't intermingled with my own code through some bundler software. Doesn't that then mean that I am not obliged to release the rest of my website's front-end javascript code?

  • 1
    This scenario probably has an equivalence to releasing code that explicitly describes a GPL'd library dependency via package manager (e.g., Python's install_requires in setup.py) without actually including any material from that library. In the space of this comment, though, I won't attempt to answer either question.
    – apsillers
    Feb 17 '20 at 16:40
  • (Not a lawyer, or acting as one, but here is my understanding) As Free-Software / Open-Source definitions prohibit discrimination by use, and you are not modify the library to depend on your code, and if your code is not a thin wrapper. Then so long as you comply with the libraries licence (GPL is in compliance with the Free-Software definition). Then you should be OK. This all supposes, that it is considered that the GPL-v3 is the licence, and not the other words that prohibit your actions. However why are you writing proprietary software? Feb 17 '20 at 22:35
  • 1
    Did you read the GPLv3?
    – user253751
    Feb 18 '20 at 16:56
  • 1
    AFAIK (and I am not a lawyer either) writing substantial code using the library generally constitutes "creating a derived work" of the library. Also, your website, if taken as a whole, contains the library and must therefore be distributed as GPLv3 (since it is not a "mere aggregation").
    – user253751
    Feb 18 '20 at 16:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.