We have a software of our authory and made by our company, We have licensed a sub part of it as GPL v2 and still develloping a professional version with more features and that shares the code we publishes as GPL in a comercial license .

Now they are saying that I´can´t comercialize our product becouse its a derivation of a GPL software.

It doesnt use any code of the community or any other GPL library, only code writen by our company and some comercial (we have licenses), LGPL and MIT licensed librarys.

I would like to know yours opnion about the fact so I can do the right thing.

Thanks in advanced

  • 1
    The GPL isn't an exclusive license. If you created the code, you can GPL it and incorporate it into a commercial product; it's yours. The only catch would be if you included anybody else's changes to your GPL code in your commercial product; that'd be infringement. Feb 11, 2019 at 18:55
  • Well, that's not the case, we are the only devellopers. They are even saying that becouse they sugest features or find bugs they are contributing to the development. :(
    – evandropoa
    Feb 11, 2019 at 19:11
  • 1
    Who are "they"?
    – Dale M
    Feb 12, 2019 at 0:06

2 Answers 2


If you use some GPL licensed software in violation of the license, the copyright holder can sue you for copyright infringement. The copyright holder. Nobody else. Nobody else can sue you for copyright violation or anything else.

As it seems that your company is the sole copyright holder, nobody can sue you but yourself. And as long as you don't sue yourself, you're just fine. (And as Dale says quite correctly, suing yourself wouldn't be just stupid, it could also be quite difficult or impossible).

PS Suggesting features or finding bugs doesn't create a copyright. It could be argued that even fixing bugs doesn't create copyright.

PS The license is completely irrelevant to this. The only thing that the GPL license does is saying who commits copyright infringement if they use the code, and who doesn't. As the sole copyright holder you cannot possibly infringe on your own copyright. And whoever is threatening you, as non-copyright holder they have no standing to sue you and will be laughed out of court. Even if I did illegally copy your software, that person who is not the copyright holder would have no standing to sue me, only you as the copyright holder would. So the case is double ridiculous: They have no standing to sue, and you have the copyright and would win even if they had standing.

I'll just repeat that: Anyone who isn't the copyright holder will be laughed out of court if they sue you. The judge won't even look at the license. The judge will ask them: Are you the copyright holder? If they answer "No" or "No, but..." the judge sends them packing.

If someone threatens to sue you, tell them to sue you, and laugh at them. If someone sues you, get a lawyer, and the lawyer will laugh at them.

  • Thanks for the comments, I´ve the same interpretation but I´m beeing sued with this alegations, so I need to found enbasement to it :/, the license text seens not to be enought dammm
    – evandropoa
    Feb 11, 2019 at 20:52
  • @gnasher729 I know you are being facetious but you are not able to sue yourself except in the very narrow circumstances when you are acting in different legal capacities (e.g. you as you and you as executor of someone else's estate).
    – Dale M
    Feb 12, 2019 at 0:04

Now they are saying that I´can´t comercialize our product becouse its a derivation of a GPL software.

This appears to be a potential issue brought up in Section 2b. of the GPL version 2:

"You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License." -- https://opensource.org/license/gpl-2-0/

In other words, it appears that the GPL version 2 specfically indicates that the license is for free (as in beer) software only. That is to say that "the Program" must be freely distributed as per-the specific duplication of the license as published at opensource.org. The term "The Program" by this license is defined as:

"The “Program” [...] refers to any such program or work, and a “work based on the Program” means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright law: that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it"

An interesting point of note is that under section 9 the license states:

"If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation."

As such, if you or your team know of some reason that the GPL specfically causes the "commercialization" of the product to be nullified, then the fact that it does not designate a version may work to your favor in that you can designate it as your preferred version. According to this published reference.

Another thing to consider is that the source is by no means definative and does not necessarily represent the defacto license. In order to get such a copy you would have to write to the foundation to obtain an official copy, if you haven't already. I highly recommend you have your legal team draft and send a letter to the foundation to get one on file. It will aleviate any ambiguity of sourcing or modification from a published variation.

The Internet truley is a great source, but there are a lot of people trying to pull the wool, as they say, so don't be too quick to interpret one version because your brother's sister's cousin's best friend said so.

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