I develop an open source Android application, which is licensed under GPL and freely available on Github.
It is currently under heavy development, therefore it isn't published in the Play Store yet.

What can I do, if someone decides to publish it in the Play Store,

  • without modifying the code (just build it from my repo and upload it, same package name).
  • with modifying the source code and publishing it on Github under same license.
  • and modify the code but don't publish the code under the same license.

2 Answers 2


The first two actions are completely fine. That’s all allowed by the GPL. If you want to restrict it, your only option might be to trademark the name; still, anyone is free to publish the app under a different name.

Regarding the third point, do you mean that the modified app isn’t published at all, but only used privately? That would be fine as well. Or do you mean that the modified app is distributed without any source code, or with source code under a different license? That would be a violation of the GPL, and you could take legal actions to try and stop it.

Generally, you can’t restrict the GPL to only some people. Everyone is free to use, modify or distribute a GPLed program, as long as they abide by the terms of the license.

  • The third one is published in the Play Store as well. I knew it would violate the GPL, I just added it nevertheless. I don't have a problem with using the app, it's just the issue I don't want the app I created published under a different name and for example claiming it's theres. Is there a way to restrict this?
    – Leandros
    Aug 16, 2013 at 9:00
  • 3
    @Leandros: The GPL allows publishing the app under name, you cannot forbid this once you have chosen the GPL. However, the GPL does require keeping copyright notices intact, so "claiming it's theirs" is probably illegal. This might help you to convince others not to do it, or might help you convince Google to pull the app, or even sue someone (though you must decide if that is worth the hassle).
    – sleske
    Aug 16, 2013 at 12:43

Quite simply do not use the GPL if it doesn't suit your needs. What you want to create is not free software (not entirely anyway). You can derive a new licence from some type of open source license and add restriction on what can be done with the software.

If you want to prohibit that somebody else generates money with it (through the Play Store or not) you could use something like CC BY-NC.

If you want to prohibit that somebody else publishes it somewhere for free, I think you shouldn't and should rather be grateful that you have somebody else taking charge of the distribution of a non-commercial product.

  • Thanks a lot, I just got a problem if someone decides to publish it in the Play Store (for example with ads, or before it's finished). I might change the license to CC BY-NC, because it is nearly what I want. It prohibit the ability to create money with an open source app which should be free for everyone without ads or anything.
    – Leandros
    Aug 16, 2013 at 9:13
  • 4
    Creative Commons advises against using CC licenses for software (except CC0 as a special case).
    – chirlu
    Aug 16, 2013 at 9:33
  • @chirlu I could remember roughly something about this, that's why I never took it into consideration, but thanks for the notice again.
    – Leandros
    Aug 16, 2013 at 13:05
  • @chirlu: Well, I did say "something like CC BY-NC". Still, after reading the link you gave, the main reason why using CC for software is advised against is incompatibility with the GPL. Then again the OP wants a licencing model that's inherently incompatible how both the FSF and OSI define free and open source software respectively, so I'm not sure that the reservations or the suggestions made by Creative Commons apply here.
    – back2dos
    Aug 16, 2013 at 13:47
  • @back2dos: The problem is rather that CC licenses weren't designed with the peculiarities of software in mind (or databases, which is why OpenStreetMap has switched to a different license). E.g., the NC clause may restrict using the software for commercial purposes. (Writing a business letter in a CC-BY-NC text editor? Nope, forbidden.)
    – chirlu
    Aug 16, 2013 at 14:17

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