While creating my software (as a developer / startup owner) I rely on the fact that I can use some (software) library for free. I also rely on the fact that I can use it for commercial purpose and that I can keep my code private (not open-source).

So, I created the product and launched it widely in the market.

But what if after that the license suddenly changes (in the future)?

Do I have (legally speaking) 100% firm guarantees that I can continue use it on the same terms (as I started), or it will be a possible "stub-in-the-back" at any time? And I will have to discontinue my business immediately?

1 Answer 1


In general, unless the license contains a clause which allows it to be modified at a later date through some defined means (publication, revocation of existing license etc) then you are free to continue to use the existing version of the software under the original license terms. So make sure you pin your versions!

Look out for clauses such as exists in the GPL which allow the recipient of the distributed binary or code to choose what version of the GPL to apply if the original author does not state (GPLv2 Clause 9) as they then allow recipients to bind you, the distributor, to versions you might not agree with (eg the switch to GPLv3 with its patents clauses).

  • also, the ability to change the license may be in a separate contract- like it is with Stack Exchange.
    – Dale M
    Dec 14, 2019 at 23:21

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