Is there a tool available for checking if various combinations of open source licenses are compatible with each other?

I'm planning on building various tools that use an Apache license for distribution because Apache's licence seems to strike a good balance between being permissive and being enforceable in law. However, I'd like to include components from other open source projects in my code base, or make adaptors available to allow the end user to integrate such components into my code base.

For example, I want to include a rich HTML editor such as CKEditor or TinyMCE in the package, but would doing so violate the licence of either project? I'm pretty sure that if I used GPL code it would force me to make my project GPL as well and I really don't want to do that. But what about MPL, LGPL, etc?

I'd rather make such decisions purely on technical grounds but if you're doing open source it would be silly to ignore the wishes of other open source projects.

I've tried looking for tools to help decide whether license X is compatible with license Y, if so which direction they're compatible in (X can include Y without issue, but if Y includes X then there could be problems, etc), and what the consequences on your licensing terms are if you include code with alternate licensing terms. All I've managed to find so far, however, is lists and charts that tend to be geared to comparing other licenses against GPL. If there is a tool out there to help with licensing issues I'd appreciate being pointed in the right direction.

1 Answer 1


I think you're looking for Black Duck Protex.

...solution for managing open source compliance. Protex integrates with existing development tools to automatically scan, discover and identify software origins, an integral step in the development process and essential for enforcing license compliance and corporate policy requirements.

  • 1
    I was hoping for some kind of free tool or an open source product, but this looks like the only answer I'm going to get.
    – GordonM
    Commented May 20, 2012 at 9:16

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