I have my own code of a software, purely coded by me. I am intending to open source it, GPLv3 or Apache 2.0. Then I will add them to Github to let others get benefits of source code and contribute back whenever needed to my software.

At the same time, I am intending to dual-license my software to let other companies use my software without limitations and restrictions of GPLv3 or Apache 2.0 licenses terms and conditions.

Now, whatever contributions get added to my open-source licensed software, can I add them simultaneously to my proprietary version of the same software? is it legal? Is it ethical?

1 Answer 1


You can only relicense contributions submitted to your project under two circumstances:

  1. The license allows you to relicense the contribution as you see fit
  2. You require the contributor to assign copyright for the change to you

If someone receives the software under an open source license, they generally contribute back under the same license - the contributor owns the copyright to the change they are submitting, so you have no inherent right to take it and do with it as you see fit.

If you want to use the change in your own proprietary distribution, you need permission to do so.

  • Thanks Moo, Hence, You mean that I need to release my open source software with a permissive license like Apache or even MIT? Does LGPL do the job? I mean I will inform my customers to use the LGPL licensed addons with my proprietary software?
    – MRAN
    Apr 18, 2020 at 17:45

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