[FFmpeg-user] GPL implications of ffmpeg in the browser

Phil Rhodes phil_rhodes at rocketmail.com
Sat Oct 24 12:41:02 CEST 2015

> Can I use a browser-based version of ffmpeg without having to release my whole project as open-source?

These sorts of questions are very difficult to answer.
With a piece of commercial software you'd go to the people who owned it, and propose what you'd like to do, and they'd tell you if they were OK with it (and how much money they wanted).
With open source software there is, often, no central controlling entity. There's nobody you can go to and ask the question. In theory, you could enter into separate agreements with all the people who wrote the code, but with a lot of open source that would involve huge numbers of people, many of whom will be difficult or impossible to contact.
Therefore, the best you can usually do is to hire a lawyer and get legal advice based on the text of the license and your proposed use of the software. The problem is that you will need a very specialist lawyer, and this will almost certainly be much more expensive than just licensing a commercial alternative.
Whatever anyone think of the moral thinking behind the GPL, it does create some quite serious problems for people who want to use software in any circumstance that wasn't anticipated by the people who wrote it. And because they wrote it in roughly the space year 1989, quite a lot of situations which are now common were not anticipated.
Be aware that many of the responses you will have received to your enquiry, and those in response to this email, are likely to be rather lacking in objectivity.

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