GeoServer : DRAFT - Do I need a proprietary license FAQ
This page last changed on Jun 25, 2007 by cholmes.
Many projects that issue proprietary licenses spread a bit of FUD about when you actually really do need to obtain the license. Since our goals are not profit, but merely the growth of the community, we believe in being as up front as possible about whether you actually need a license.
Note that even if you are not required to obtain a proprietary license, we still encourage you to obtain the 'Enterprise Edition' of GeoServer, which comes bundled with commercial services, and will get you priority support requests and closer involvement with the community. And it will help out the core developers by paying a part of their salaries. But we emphasize that there are many other ways to get involved - helping with promotion, giving talks at conferences, writing documentation, reporting bugs, and even writing code. So if you find GeoServer to be a useful project, please find a way to contribute, either with your time, or getting a support contract paid for.
I'm an integrator who is accessing GeoServer's WFS and WMS with a proprietary system, do I need to buy a license?
No, the GPL only comes in to effect when you link code. If you are working behind standard interfaces there is no requirement to buy a proprietary license.
No, the GPL does not cover the database that you're integrating with. Indeed if it did then we would not be able to have GeoServer support ArcSDE, Oracle, and DB2.
I used the core modules of GeoServer to build a new Geo-chicken services, but did not utilize any W*S services, do I have to release my code?
Currently you do have to release your code, or obtain a proprietary license. But the community is considering plans to release the core modules under an LGPL license. If you are interested in such a licensing agreement, please get in touch, as we are very interested in allowing people to build new services on top of the core.
I wrote some custom code to have our proprietary system share its data directly through GeoServer's WFS. Do I have to release that code?
If you are releasing software built directly on GeoServer then you either have to release that code or buy a proprietary license. There is one exception to this, however, which is that if you are not 'distributing' the software, if you are just hosting it on your server and using it internally, then you do not have to buy a proprietary license from the community licensing model. But if you are building a business on GeoServer we do encourage you to actively join the community and help out, as you will definitely benefit from the collaborative spirit.
No, everything that an Enterprise Edition package offers is available without a proprietary license, and there are providers who will sell you services and support even if you don't have a proprietary license. We also offer an open source version of the GeoServer Enterprise Edition, which is the same package, but using GPL as the license. If a proprietary license is not specifically required we recommend that version, and it may be available at a lower cost.
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