40 votes

Is it legal to use GPL code in a proprietary, closed-source program by putting it in a separate, standalone program?

IANAL/IANYL. That said, the FSF, who are generally thought of as arguing for a fairly wide interpretation of what the GPL covers, are reasonably clear that the proprietary program and the GPL wrapper ...
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  • 37.8k
34 votes

Can I disregard GPL just because I use autoconf?

The exception says that “you may include it”, where it is the build scripts generated by autoconf. This is not a broad GPL exception that would apply to any GPL-licensed software. The autotools ...
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  • 33.2k
33 votes
Accepted

Why doesn't this GPL loophole work?

ArtOfCode's answer correctly describes Carol's situation relative to Alice's code: violation of Alice's original license (which is not the GPL) and therefore infringement of Alice's copyright. The ...
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  • 446
30 votes
Accepted

What happens if stolen software is published as Open Source?

I have done a thorough IP review on my own project in 2007. You can find some info about this project in this slide deck: Startup Legal and IP. I encountered many situations that are similar to what ...
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30 votes
Accepted

Choosing the most restrictive open-source license

There is no free software / open source license that will satisfy your requirements. These licenses generally focus on the freedoms of end users, they are not trying to restrict anyone. The freedom to ...
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  • 33.2k
26 votes
Accepted

What is the correct term for software whose source code is available only to read?

Source available is a common term used to describe such licenses.
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  • 1,756
25 votes
Accepted

Can my proprietary app automatically download a GPL-licensed binary?

You could, but I wouldn't bother. Your application invokes a GPLed binary via fork-and-exec, and as we have written many times here (example), that means it's likely a separate work for GPL purposes....
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  • 37.8k
24 votes

Is it possible to close an open source project?

Yes, and no. As per the question you linked, if you're the only contributor, you can do whatever you want with the project. You can take it off GitHub or whatever platform you decided, you can ...
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23 votes

Can I sell a proprietary software with an LGPL library bundled along with it, without making my source code public?

Yes, you can distribute your software without making the source code public and without giving recipients the right to make changes to your software. The LGPL license explicitly allows such usages of ...
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19 votes

When distributing a Linux kernel driver as source code, what's the difference between Proprietary and GPL license?

Do you customers have any right to modify the source they've been given? Do they have the right to distribute the code without your permission? Do they have the right to distribute modified versions ...
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18 votes
Accepted

Are all docker images free (i.e. GPL)?

Linux (the Kernel) uses the GPL 2.0 with an extra statement: NOTE! This copyright does not cover user programs that use kernel services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal ...
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17 votes
Accepted

Can I sell a proprietary software with an LGPL library bundled along with it, without making my source code public?

You've already got the answer that LGPL libraries can be used in commercial software. So far, so good. There's more to this than meets the eye, though. The thing is, PySide2 is for using the Qt ...
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  • 286
16 votes
Accepted

Is it legal for a corporation to "lock in" & restrict usage and redistribution of Open Source software that it has released to it's own services?

If Amazon writes the code, they can release it under any licence(s) they choose, including fully-free and fully-proprietary licences, or not release it at all. The cognitive disconnect here is that ...
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  • 37.8k
16 votes
Accepted

As owner of GPL library, can I break the licensing terms?

Yes indeed, as the sole author (copyright owner) of a library, you are not bound by the terms you choose to license it to the general public. Thus you can use it in your own proprietary programs. ...
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  • 5,257
16 votes
Accepted

Difference between MongoDB SSPL and GNU AGPL

The AGPL requires that the people interacting with program A over a network have the right (and possibility) to obtain a copy of the source code of A. The AGPL does not strictly define what ...
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16 votes
Accepted

What happens if a company releases third-party confidential code as open source?

Mr. Coyote should talk to his lawyers ASAP. While he was unaware that the code he was using was a copyright violation, he could make a reasonable defense against punitive damages. However, now he is ...
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15 votes

May I use AGPL license in a desktop application without providing the source code?

There is a lot of confusion regarding modification. You claim that "The lib's code is just used, not modified." That's a very narrow interpretation of modification. In court, integrating the library ...
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15 votes

Is it legal to use GPL code in a proprietary, closed-source program by putting it in a separate, standalone program?

The answer is, it depends. If you are introducing the wrapper just to try to avoid the obligations of the GPL, there's a good chance it's not legal. Whether two works are derivative works of each ...
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14 votes
Accepted

Is it possible to close an open source project?

Much would depend on the initial license chosen when creating the OS project. If the OSP was originally published under a copyleft license such as GPL, then the answer is clearly no. They can not ...
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  • 6,695
13 votes

Why doesn't this GPL loophole work?

Carol hasn't violated the GPL, she's violated Alice's copyright and in doing so invalidated her use of the GPL. In simple terms, because Alice's code wasn't Carol's to release, she can't apply the ...
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  • 8,700
12 votes

Is it possible to close an open source project?

Technically yes, but practically no. Technically yes - if you're the sole contributor, or you can get agreement with your co-contributors, you can do anything you like. It doesn't matter how you've ...
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  • 8,700
12 votes
Accepted

How can a software company cope with more and more customers asking for open source software

Probably not a Politically Correct answer for this site but ... JUST SAY NO Of course that isn't going to be enough for your customers, you need to present a good business case for them to continue ...
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  • 6,695
12 votes

Proprietary software made of free software parts

It depends on the license, and also somewhat on the country. For the BSD and MIT licenses, this is a friendly yes. Your "derivative work" contains a separate copyright interest from the original and ...
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  • 1,656
12 votes

Is using MIT-licensed code in non-open source code considered stealing?

For all software libraries, copyright law applies, and you must read and follow the license in order to use it legally. For a MIT licensed code library, if you distribute the resulting package, you ...
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12 votes

Can a closed-source software be free

What you describe is usually called freeware. The FSF does not consider freeware to be free software, considering it to be proprietary software, and asks people not to call free software freeware. ...
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12 votes
Accepted

How do products like MongoDB not violate the GPL licenses?

MongoDB requires contributors to sign a contributor agreement where they have to waive all rights so that MongoDB can license the code subsequently under whatever license they see fit. That includes ...
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  • 8,270
12 votes
Accepted

Proprietary Software + GPL: A case study with OctaneRender and Blender

Your question already contains the relevant analysis, and without knowing details about their protocol there's nothing to add here. So this is a case where the software could be compliant, and is not ...
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  • 33.2k
11 votes
Accepted

What are the main steps to convert a currently closed source project into an open source one?

Theoretically, all that needs to be done to make a previously closed source project open source is to put the sourcecode online with an OSI or FSF approved license of your choice attached. However, ...
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  • 11.2k
11 votes

Use of BSD-3 Clause license and python software license for proprietary use

BSD-3 clause is a very permissive license that does not require you disclosing your source code or the source code of the open source libraries. You are not required to allow your users to re-...
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11 votes
Accepted

Is it legal to remove a dependency with a copyleft license from a proprietary project?

Law is complicated and varies by jurisdiction. In the United States (and probably many other jurisdictions), a court generally cannot compel you to release your source code simply because you did not ...
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  • 30.9k

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