I am planning on making a service that uses a modified open source software. Would it be legal for me to profit from it? I am not sure what information would be relevant to this so if I have missed some relevant info, please tell me what additional information is required to determine this.

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    "Open source" can refer to any of a number of different licenses. Most of them would allow this but some might not. Which license applies to the software in question? (It's often in a file named LICENSE or COPYING). You may be able to answer your question for yourself by reading the license. – Nate Eldredge Aug 25 '16 at 8:29
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    @NateEldredge Any license that conforms to the Open Source Definition allows commercial use. – Zizouz212 Aug 29 '16 at 18:36

You are allowed to sell open source software for any amount you like. You are allowed to charge reasonable cost for supplying the source code. You are not allowed to charge anything for the license. And of course modified open source software may only distributed with an open source license.

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    "Modified open source software may only be distributed with an open source license" - that's true of a GPL-like license. It is emphatically not true of MIT-like licenses. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Aug 16 '18 at 10:27
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    This is plain wrong. – Nobody Nov 29 '19 at 21:52

Generally yes. The concept of 'free software' is almost identical Open Source, and one of the four fundamental freedoms is the freedom to run the software for any purpose. That includes seeking profit.


Yes, you can use open source software commercially. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) says:

Can Open Source software be used for commercial purposes?

Absolutely. All Open Source software can be used for commercial purpose; the Open Source Definition guarantees this. You can even sell Open Source software.

However, note that commercial is not the same as proprietary. If you receive software under an Open Source license, you can always use that software for commercial purposes, but that doesn't always mean you can place further restrictions on people who receive the software from you. In particular, copyleft-style Open Source licenses require that, in at least some cases, when you distribute the software, you must do so under the same license you received it under.

When using code from a copyleft license, the question then becomes whether you need to share your derivative source code. This depends on which copyleft license was used and what your program is doing with the code, as some licenses have what is known as the SaaS loophole which would allow you to use copyleft code server side without needing to release your code.

See also OSI’s list of open source licenses.

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