I have rather specific question about licensing but first of all I would just like to state that I already read a lot of Q&A's here but I'm still not sure about the problem in that particular scope.

As I've understand from other Q&A's, you are allowed to distribute your commercial application even with LGPL library as long as this library can be replaced by another version of it by user himself. That means that you pack it as .dll or whatever. The rest of the application remains proprietary licensed.

This is clear at all for compiled software. But my question is: how this relate to software which is not compiled (which is distributed as source code but still proprietary) like all PHP applications?

To be really clear I will show you exact example. I'm building a CMS applications for various purposes. All of them are different but most of them share the same "basic element" - JavaScript WYSIWYG editor. I would like to use one which is GPL/LGPL/MPL licensed.

So there are several questions:

  • Can I use this LGPL editor at all so that rest of my application remains proprietary?
  • What I have to do to be able to do that?
  • Are there any special "ways of distributing" the library like separated ZIP archive or something like that?

As for non-native English speaker it's really hard for me to read the licenses in their original form. I just don't want to get in any trouble.

1 Answer 1


As far as the large majority of open-source licenses is concerned, there is no difference at all between software written in a compiled language (thus providing the ability to distribute object/binary code) and software written in an interpreted language (thus effectively requiring distribution in source form). This also holds for the interaction of these licenses with each other and with non-free licenses.

For example, if you have written a PHP program that makes use of a module that is distributed under the GPL license, then you can not distribute the code you wrote under a license that forbids modification or redistribution. This is regardless of the availability of the source code, because it is about the rights you give the recipients of the program.

To answer your questions: Yes, you can use an LGPL editor in your proprietary application (without affecting the license), provided that the user of the application has the possibility to replace the editor with another (compatible) one. There are no special requirements on how you distribute such an application, but if you use third-party components (regardless of how they are licensed) it is a good idea to clearly identify them in a Readme file or something similar.

  • Who is considered the user of the application if it is a website? The website owner or the visitor? If the source code of the proprietary website is not distributed the visitor to the website won't have the ability to replace the editor. Sep 21, 2017 at 1:14
  • 1
    @CodeCommander: In the context of the LGPL license, the person who holds a copy of the software must be able to replace the LGPL-licensed parts. For a website, this would be the owner of the site. Sep 21, 2017 at 9:27

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