I have created my own computer application and I wanted to use Apache License 2.0 to license it.

Can I distribute only binary form of my application without source code?

  • 1
    Do you mean you don't want to redistribute the source at all, or that you want to distribute it separately from the binary?
    – Mureinik
    Apr 10 '20 at 7:20
  • @Mureinik I don't want to redistribute the source at all. Is it allowed with Apache License 2.0?
    – Holden
    Apr 10 '20 at 9:34
  • 1
    @Holden this would be really odd. Why do you want to do that? can you explain what benefits you expect for you and your users? Apr 10 '20 at 11:30
  • @PhilippeOmbredanne Two reasons. I need a license, but I don't want to write it by myself. I want to distribute my software without source code but with opportunity to switch distribution to fully open-source in near future.
    – Holden
    Apr 10 '20 at 15:07
  • @Holden use a proprietary license then. You can always switch to Apache later, but having Apache without the source code feels like a deceptive practice to me. Apr 11 '20 at 9:35

The Apache License 2.0 does not require source code to be disclosed. However, open-source licenses like the Apache license are intended for, well, open source software. For proprietary (non-open) software, it would likely be better to get a lawyer to write custom licensing terms.

Even when not disclosing your source code, the Apache license has some interesting properties that could be valuable:

  • recipients are allowed to share and modify the software, e.g. by reverse-engineering or decompiling it
  • you grant a patent license to recipients (if applicable)
  • the license has a robust attribution mechanism through its NOTICE file concept
  • Thanks! Sounds reasonable. I will accept this answer after some time.
    – Holden
    Apr 10 '20 at 15:10

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