Selling software which includes open-source material

| | August 4, 2015

I want to build a software module which will be constituted of open-source material from another project. You can think of it as a theme for an OS from another one. It will also include logic and such to put this material in the correct place, which is what I’m selling.

The origin of the material is licensed under GPL and LGPL, and in the description of this software I will provide a link to download a full copy of its source code and instructions to build a working copy of it by yourself for free, and also give full credit to the material authors. Buying it would be an optional donation to me, or a way to install it with zero-configuration for the lazy.

As far as I could understand the GPL and LGPL license, it is OK to go with such approach, isn’t it?

Edit after 1 year: please read my first comment on this question.

As now I’m adding a bounty, I would like formal sources on the answer confirming if it is or isn’t legal or acceptable by the community.

One Response to “Selling software which includes open-source material”

  1. In general, GPL is pretty restrictive in that it requires you to make you source code available if it is derived from, built on top or linked to a GPL work. The Lesser GPL is less restrictive, so let’s focus on the ordinary GPL. A company would not normally use GPL licensed work in its commercial (i.e. for public) products unless it’s willing to disclose the proprietary source code. However, what you describe seems to comply with the requirements of the license – you sell copies but also provide a way to build a free version, include all original notices, release your work under the same license, and make the source code of your application available.

    All definitions and requirements are listed in the original GPL document https://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html and explained further in http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html.

    Another useful read is http://programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/47032/can-i-use-gpl-software-in-a-commercial-application

    About Lesser GPL http://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-not-lgpl.html

    I don’t know if you intend to use other open-source components in your application. If yes, you should check if their licenses permit them to be used alongside GPL.

    Good luck!

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