3

I am using GhostScript on a desktop application that I intend to sell online. The GhostScript library has an AFERO license (see here). I do not mind to make the source code of my application available to anyone who requests it. Therefore, can I license my application under the GNU Affero General Public License (GPL), even when if it will be commercialised?

  • The GPL and AGPL don't have anything to say about selling software, other than you have to provide the source code at no charge. – Robert Harvey Jun 20 '16 at 4:13
  • 1
    this does mean someone can duplicate your app at will though – Ewan Jun 20 '16 at 8:00
4

Sure thing - none of the GPL licenses, including AGPL, forbids commercial activity.

See http://www.affero.org/oagf.html for more information.

Moreover, there are plenty of software with well established commercial ecosystem around it. MongoDB and RhodeCode what I recall from the top of my head.

  • Thanks for your answer. And do I have to provide the source code to whoever asks for it even if they don't buy my application? – Anna Dorsey Jun 21 '16 at 23:03
  • Just one more thing. When you say I have to provide the source code, what exactly does that mean? Can I provide the source code in any format that I want (for example, in paper)? – Anna Dorsey Jun 21 '16 at 23:25
  • The distribution of source code is tied to the distribution of application. So technically the license only mandates you to give it to those whom you give (sell, whatever) the application. Having said that, nothing will stop them from putting the code they got from you online. As for paper - don't know, maybe you can try to "outsmart" license, but why bother wasting your time? There's nothing you can gain that way except for reputation of a royal duche. – god Jun 25 '16 at 13:17
2

Yes, but only if you license your product as AGPL as well. Just offering to provide source code to whoever asks is not enough.

That does not prevent you from asking money for the product, but it means your customers have more rights than you maybe like.

In particular, it would be perfectly fine for your first customer to put up your software for free on Github or anywhere else, also under the terms of the AGPL, so that nobody else will have to buy it anymore.

  • Thanks for your answer. And do I have to provide the source code to whoever asks for it even if they don't buy my application? – Anna Dorsey Jun 21 '16 at 23:02
  • Just one more thing. When you say I have to provide the source code, what exactly does that mean? Can I provide the source code in any format that I want (for example, in paper)? – Anna Dorsey Jun 21 '16 at 23:25
  • 1
    @MastroMan: Read the license, it's really quite normal English. In section 6, you can choose one of a) to e). If you use a physicial method, you have to use a "durable physical medium customarily used for software interchange", and paper isn't. – RemcoGerlich Jun 22 '16 at 6:54
0

If your software is GPL licensed, you can charge: Any amount you want for the software itself. Reasonable cost for providing the source code. Nothing for the license.

How successful this is depends on the situation. If you wrote some customer specific software for a business, that business would have the right to ask you for the source code and hand the source code to everyone who wants it. But they would likely not do that, because that means giving the software to their competitors for free. So you can adapt that software for other customers and sell it to them as well. But if you have software that is of general interest, then there is a good chance that someone will give it away for free and hurt your business.

Of course if a business paid you for creating the software for them, and that payment pays your work, you are fine.

  • Thank you very much. When you say I have to provide the source code, what exactly does that mean? Can I provide the source code in any format that I want (for example, in paper)? – Anna Dorsey Jun 21 '16 at 23:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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