Currently working with a client and their lawyers to launch a web application.

The website will be hosted in AWS on Debian Linux instances.

Debian contains (among others) the GNU General Public License which in my understanding is a Copyleft license.

We are being asked by lawyers, given this is a Copyleft license and we are hosting code running on these servers, does this mean our code must also use Copyleft and therefor be open sourced?

I am not looking for strict legal advice but opinions or places where I can read further into this, so far haven't been able to find any good resources.

Thank you in advance

  • 4
    You would only need to open source your code if it actually incorporated or statically linked with GPL code, not just because you're running on a GPL O/S. I'm surprised the lawyers can't read the license themselves, isn't this sort of thing exactly what you hire lawyers for? – Sean Burton Jan 11 '18 at 11:56
  • And, if even your lawyers, who spent years studying this stuff and are experts in matters of law, cannot figure it out, what makes you think a bunch of random strangers on the Internet, who may or may not be experts in Software Engineering, but definitely not legal experts can? – Jörg W Mittag Jan 12 '18 at 1:31
  • As I stated @JörgWMittag - I am not looking for strict legal advice but opinions or places where I can read further into this - I agree, we aren't legal experts but I am simply hoping to better understand the licensing topic myself rather than blindly using the feedback provided to determine legal decisions. I think it's incorrect to assume that random strangers on the internet are incapable of providing useful, interesting information. – timothyclifford Jan 12 '18 at 9:59

He is the place from where the GNU licences are coming from with their best explanation.

GNU Licenses

and Licenses comparaison

So, all of that mean you are free as in freedom to use, share, modify and share the modification of the original source code.

That does not mean that because the license of the software you use for your purpose will make your stuff free too.

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