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I am writing a MATLAB application that makes fairly heavy use of the MATLAB File Exchange. Most of the functions I use from here fall under the BSD license.

My application is being deployed for internal use only and is not meant for public consumption. While my particular case uses code that falls under the BSD license, generally speaking what implications are there for using open-source code (GPL, BSD, etc) for programs that will never go public? Do I have to include a license file to cover the code that was licensed as BSD?

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  • you typically need to make the source available only to your users, it doesn't matter if they are limited in number Apr 22, 2014 at 14:58
  • @ratchetfreak Is it good enough to say "source code available upon request, contact [email protected]"?
    – Dang Khoa
    Apr 22, 2014 at 15:01
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    The BSD has no source distribution requirements, other than you must retain the copyright notice on source distributions. Apr 22, 2014 at 15:38
  • Most license terms only matter if you distribute the software. Since the organization is both the user and likely the copyright owner of any modifications and software linked to it, it probably does not matter. Consult an IP lawyer to be sure, though.
    – user22815
    Apr 22, 2014 at 16:14
  • @ratchetfreak Distribution within an organization of software is not usually considered distribution under most F/OSS licenses. The FSF specifically calls this out in the GPL FAQ, saying "Is making and using multiple copies within one organization or company “distribution”? No, in that case the organization is just making the copies for itself." Apr 23, 2014 at 1:42

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The BSD has no source distribution requirements, other than you must retain the copyright notice on source distributions.

I would refrain from using such a license on an internal distribution, however. The whole point of using the BSD license is to allow the widest possible distribution, and if your application is internal only, you're not going to need BSD. Putting the BSD license on it implies that it is OK to use it anywhere, a notion that is not compatible with "internal only."

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  • Suppose for generality's sake that I used source code that was GPL-licensed. Does your answer change? (Out of curiosity.)
    – Dang Khoa
    Apr 22, 2014 at 16:06
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    The GPL has no effect on internal distribution (it's not considered "conveyance"). Apr 22, 2014 at 16:06

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