Firstly, apologizes for any bad terminology, lack of research, or poor delivery of my question.

I should note that originally I had one big question, but I figured the first half is sort of independent, so I've posted it individually, link. My understanding of "commercial purposes" is so far based on the OP of that question.

So basically my next piece of work will be the first to be involved in a commercial purpose, so I want to learn how to make appropriate technology choices that puts me on the safe side of legal concerns, let's take Java for a case example:

  1. I will assume that the only thing I need to worry about is the licensing of JDK.
  2. It seems that the license for JDK is this one, which seems to not put any commercial concerns except for contents of table 1-1 from this link, which are stuff I never heard about, and probably won't cross.
  3. From #2, and from various implications that JDK mainly adheres to GPL, and from what I understood from GPL, it seems Java is in the green when it comes to commercial purposes, provided the owner of the executable has also ownership of the corresponding source code.

Q1: So, are my previous conclusions correct?

Q2: The research process was really exhausting from my end, are there some key elements to pursue when checking these stuff? or are there online resources/communities that already did most of this verification research?

Forward thanks.

  • Are you planning to modify the JDK (i.e. make a commercial product that is an extension or modification of the JDK), or are you planning to sell something built with the JDK (but merely using it as a tool to build your product)? The implications are different!
    – Andres F.
    May 25, 2013 at 17:13
  • Creating Java apps, which I think is the 2nd case.
    – KtX2SkD
    May 26, 2013 at 6:18
  • See also What does "general purpose system" mean for Java SE Embedded?: Oracles JVM is not free on embeddded systems or when bundled with embedded systems. May 27, 2013 at 21:59
  • Checked, my thing is most likely not an embedded system, I'm doing an minimal ERP to be specific.
    – KtX2SkD
    May 28, 2013 at 6:30

1 Answer 1



No, your conclusions are not entirely correct.

Beside the JDK license (which is relevant to determine if it allows you to develop the kind of application you want to develop), you must also consider the licenses of 3rd-party libraries that you might want to use in your application. These will largely determine if you can distribute the application under the conditions you have chosen. For example, you can't distribute a closed-source application that uses a GPL library.

With regard to your third conclusion, actually having the source code is not a consideration. The conditions with regard to the source code of the GPL (and other open-source licences) are satisfied if you can obtain it if you so desire. You are not required to actually have a copy of the source code to be able to use the software.


You should not trust an online community of non-lawyers and pretend-lawyers to give you sound legal advise. Only a lawyer you hired for that purpose can be trusted for that.

That said, there are a few tips that might help you:

  • Very few licenses restrict how software can be used, and if there is a restriction, most often it will be to prohibit use for "ethically difficult" purposes (such as military use or pornography). There are a few licenses that prohibit the incorporation of the software in a commercial product.
  • One of the aims of Open source software is to give everyone using the software equal rights. So, for licenses on open source software it is unacceptable to put restrictions on how the software can be used (although it can put restrictions on the license that you can use on software the interoperates with it).
  • For most licenses, there is a layman's explanation floating around on the internet of what you can use it for and what the consequences are. Wikipedia is often a good first start, and if you don't understand it, you can always ask the distributor of the software or here. On the other hand, common sense also gets you quite a long way. The authors of a license usually don't try to trick you in using their software inappropriately.
  • Many thanks for the answer, it happens I was originally aware of the things you addressed in A1. I'll soon read about this Layman thing, I keep seeing the name recently. For A2, I couldn't understand the 2nd bullet, and for 3rd & 0th bullets: Wikipedia helps but it isn't interactive, you guys are interactive but it doesn't seem this type of legal/licensing questions are posted often, especially that my other question (link in OP) got rejected. As you said online sources aren't authentic, but they can provide the general guidelines, like Wikipedia, which is why I asked about any, if there is.
    – KtX2SkD
    May 28, 2013 at 7:04
  • @KtX2SkD: a layman is a non-expert. May 28, 2013 at 7:36
  • @KtX2SkD: These types of questions are asked often enough, but usually in terms of "what does license X mean in situation Y". The reason for closing your other question is explained there. You are right that wikipedia is less interactive, but at the same time it can cover a much broader subject matter, or provide an answer that touches on more aspects of the subject. May 28, 2013 at 7:39

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