Lets say I'm using Node-Webkit, an MIT licensed app runtime. Now, let's say I decide to include a Javascript library which is GPL licensed: while I do not modify the downloaded JS file, I do write my own code making use of the library's functions. I plan to sell the final obfuscated executable and I'm wondering: what's the final license of the complete software? Do I only have to release the GPL library or does the GPL license apply for all the code I wrote? What happens to Node-Webkit's MIT license?

  • You need to be clear about whether it is GPL or LGPL. If it is actually GPL licensed, then you must release your source. Nov 6, 2013 at 20:27
  • IANAL, and licenses really aren't my thing. A key point here is that one can no longer separate the GPL code from your application once the whole is obscufated. This makes things a bit more problematic.
    – user40980
    Nov 6, 2013 at 20:38
  • @MichaelT Obfuscation is only applied to my own code. Then, I use third party tools like this: enigmaprotector.com/en/aboutvb.html to wrap up the DLLs. I don't know what kind of obfuscation is applied on that step.
    – Belohlavek
    Nov 6, 2013 at 20:43

1 Answer 1


This is a question for your attorney.

I am not an attorney, and more importantly I'm not your attorney. This is not legal advice. This is merely my rumination on the topic.

The effect of the GPL on your code depends on the definition of the GPL's concept of linking and derivative works. Because this is JavaScript, the matter of linking is not entirely clear. But if your code uses the GPL'd library, then your program as a whole is dependent on it and is therefore bound by the terms of the GPL. Under those terms, any user can demand the full, unobfuscated source code (under the GPL requirement of source code being in the "preferred form of the work for making modifications"), and you are required to convey it.

If you wish to distribute your work under a "proprietary license," and in an obfuscated form, then your work will be in violation of the GPL if you include any GPL code and do not also offer the full original source code for your project.

  • "any user can demand the full, unobfuscated source code" does this mean that I can send the code to that specific person if and only if he or she requires it?
    – Belohlavek
    Nov 6, 2013 at 20:40
  • 4
    @Belohlavek: No, it means that you must make an offer of source code to anyone who receives the software, and that source code must be made readily available in the preferred from for modification. Even if he or she doesn't "require" it, you're still required to give them the source if they ask for it, for whatever reason. It also means that the entirety of your code is covered under the GPL, and anyone who receives your program can redistribute the source code however they wish.
    – greyfade
    Nov 6, 2013 at 20:53
  • 1
    @Belohlavek If you look at Section 6, point d) of the GPL3, you'll see that you should distribute the code using the same means as the compiled form: “in the same way through the same place at no further charge”. If you offer a download link on a webpage, offer another link for your source. The “written offer” clause in point b) applies for distribution via physical media (like CDs).
    – amon
    Nov 6, 2013 at 21:07

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