If an organization develops their own software internally (with no license agreement) but uses other software frameworks that are open source that we modified to those frameworks work for us internally, and then we decide to share this source code with other organizations, what does this organization need to do before sharing the source code?

The other frameworks that are open source (that we modified) are using various software license agreements.

BSD, MIT, Apache, GPL v3

  • 5
    You used GLP. Therefore you have no choice on whether you share it: you have to make what you developed GPL licensed, and you have to make the source available too. Welcome to the wacky world of the GPL virus.
    – David Arno
    Feb 8, 2016 at 21:27
  • The BSD and Apache licences simply require you to acknowledge you are using the libraries and to include any licence files associated with those libraries in your releases. The MIT places no restrictions on you.
    – David Arno
    Feb 8, 2016 at 21:33
  • Oh and you must make the source available for any changes you made to the GPL libraries too. There's no requirement to do this for the other licences.
    – David Arno
    Feb 8, 2016 at 21:34
  • 1
    "you must make your code and the modified GPL libraries' source code available to any that want to access it." – No. You must make the source code available to anybody whom you distribute the binaries to. Nothing more. Feb 9, 2016 at 0:35
  • 1
    "Anyone to whom you provide access to your app, has the right to the source." – No. That's the AGPL. The GPL only requires you to make the source code available to anybody whom you distribute the binaries to. If you merely give them access to the app, then you do not need to make the source available. E.g. Google only gives you access to their servers running Linux, but they don't give you the Linux kernel, ergo, they don't need to make their modifications available to you. This is called the "ASP loophole", and it is closed by the AGPL. Feb 9, 2016 at 0:56

1 Answer 1


If your organization is a legal entity (a business or otherwise officially recognized organisation), then the copyright on the software that is developed on behalf of your organization will most likely belong to your organisation.

As the copyright holder, your organisation can change the copyright on their code whenever you like and that includes attaching a license to code that did not previously have an (explicit) copyright license.

When choosing a copyright license, there are a number of considerations to take into account:

  • If you want to use another license than a well-known open-source license, you must involve a lawyer in the drafting of the license text and in verifying that your license is compatible with the licenses for third-party code that you depend on.
  • For changes made to third-party libraries, you must check what requirements the license places on you for under which license you can release your modifications. The easiest option is to always release those changes under the same license as the original library.
  • If your application makes use of of a GPL library, or a library under a similar (strong) copyleft license, then you are effectively also required to use a copyleft license.

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