I'm developing software that i want to license under the MIT License. My software uses libraries licensed under the GPL. I'm NOT recompiling, building, or modifying the Library but I am linking to it. Am i allowed to distribute the package under the MIT license or do i have to distribute the package under the GPL?

The library is actually dual licensed under CDDL 1.1 and GPLv2 with Classpath Exception. Take a look here: https://jsonp.java.net/license.html

  • 1
    Do you mean LGPL for the libraries. or really GPL? Feb 23, 2015 at 9:05

2 Answers 2


Does your library depend on the GPL libraries for its proper functioning? If it does, then you have created a derived work, and your license must also be GPL.

If your library does not depend on the GPL libraries for its proper functioning, and losing the GPL libraries does not substantially impair your library from working properly, then you should be able to dual-license it.

*I am not a lawyer, and I do not play one on TV. Void where prohibited.

  • 3
    Doesn't their license only need to be GPL-compatible? (The MIT License is.) It's only the combined work that needs to be distributed under the GPL.
    – user76704
    Feb 23, 2015 at 1:15
  • Yes, that's what I said. Feb 23, 2015 at 1:53
  • Robert, I agree for the entire software package, but he should be able to distribute just his application sources under MIT, though it obviously is not optimal as he cannot distribute the GPL library with his code and he cannot distribute binaries. Feb 23, 2015 at 2:58
  • 2
    @ChrisMerck: At the risk of stating the obvious in my answer, I have now stated the obvious in my answer. Feb 23, 2015 at 3:18

You may license and distribute your application code under the MIT license, however you may not distribute binaries. Essentially you must let your users build their own binaries using their own copy of the GPLed library.

  • 4
    The Free Software Foundation disagrees. It says the GPL requires that anything based upon GPL-licensed code be distributed under the GPL. That restriction applies regardless of whether the code is distributed as source or binary. See GPLv3 Section 5, and the FSF GPL "IfLibraryIsGPL" FAQ. Feb 23, 2015 at 4:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.