Building closed-source applications with OpenGeo Suite
At OpenGeo, we get lots of questions regarding licensing. The truth is that open source licenses are varied, broad, sometimes confusing, and are definitely not all created equal. We’ve written about licensing before on this blog, but there is of course more to say.
One question we get often from both prospective and current clients is:
Can a company that does not want to open their source code use the OpenGeo Suite?
- PostGIS: GPL v2 (Source)
- GeoServer: GPL v2 (Source)
- GeoTools: LGPL (Source)
- GeoWebCache: LGPL (Source)
- OpenLayers: BSD (Source)
- GeoExt: BSD (Source)
- Ext JS: GPL v3 (Source) or Sencha commercial license.
With all of this in mind, it is possible to create closed-source applications that depend on the OpenGeo Suite without having to distribute the code. However, if you are making code-level changes to the OpenGeo Suite or its components, you are obligated to redistribute those changes if you redistribute the software. So, the obligation to open source applies to modifications of the source code, not to any applications that leverage the software. You are free to provide whatever licensing on your code that you deem is appropriate.
Many people ask about dual-licensing the OpenGeo Suite (much like how Sencha does with Ext JS). However, as we’re a true open source company, we don’t own all of the intellectual property for our source code and are just as obligated by the license to distribute modifications as anyone else is. So, dual-licensing just isn’t an option.
While we promote open source application development (and do so in house), we respect that everyone’s needs are different and strive to be as accommodating as possible to any organization that wishes to use the OpenGeo Suite.
Hopefully this will clear up some confusion surrounding licensing, but as always, if you have questions, please feel free to comment on this post, send us a message on Twitter, or even a private message through our contact form. Happy coding!