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LGPL/GPL software for internal corporate use?

I was looking at some software I might want to use at my job, such as SDL:

Does anyone know if you can use this in a corporation, internally only, without any problems?

It would never be distributed to paying customers.  I just wouldn't want some fiasco where our internal source code had to be released because we're using open source software.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Oh here is the license:

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Internal usage of GPL is allowed without distribution of the source. That is how I read the license.

LGPL is a little different you are allowed to distribute LGPL libraries with your software without the distribution of your main source. The GPL part usually comes in to effect when you modify the library and distribute the modified library.

The usual IANAL disclaimer of course.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

The GNU Web site says this:

The GPL does not require you to release your modified version.  You are free to make modifications and use them privately, without ever releasing them.  This applies to organizations (including companies), too; an organization can make a modified version and use it internally without ever releasing it outside the organization.

But if you release the modified version to the public in some way, the GPL requires you to make the modified source code available to the program's users, under the GPL.

Thus, the GPL gives permission to release the modified program in certain ways, and not in other ways; but the decision of whether to release it is up to you.

The FSF consider this a question of privacy and consider privacy a part of the freedom Free software is supposed to allow. The requirement to release source code to the public even if the software was merely modified and used as opposed to modified and distributed was one of two reasons why the Apple open source licence was not considered a Free software licence until version 2.0.

So my understanding is that you can use GPLed and LGPLed software internally without having to release your modifications, UNLESS you distribute your modified version outside the company, but IANAL.

But do understand that releasing a few modifications into the wild might not be so bad afterall.

Leauki (Andrew J. Brehm)
Saturday, May 1, 2004

So I wonder if some companies are still reluctant to use it... what if you started releasing some internal tools to contractors.  That is sort of inside the company but sort of outside.

And then what if the contractors put it on their home PC to use it.

And then their brother used the program for something he might have need to do, etc.

It seems like even though you could have the best of intentions only to use software internally, people could make a case against you if something out of the ordinary happened.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

If you give the software to contractors for the purpose of working on it for you, you have not given them the software as such. They are still obligated to respect your right to privacy, which the GPL makes very clear exists.

They would not be allowed to put it on their home PC to use it unless you give permission to them to do so.

As for them giving the software to others, that is not an issue of the GPL/LGPL but could happen with non-GPLed software also.

The GPL merely demands that IF you give the software to somebody for good, you MUST give him the same rights you have to the software.

But the GPL does not demand that you give your software to anybody or that others could simply copy your private data.

At least that is my reading of the situation and the GPL FAQ of seems to support that view.

Ask Richard Stallman if you need clarification.

Leauki (Andrew J. Brehm)
Sunday, May 2, 2004

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