Can I sell an open source project to my client?


i have one open source project, i want to sell this to my client by making some modification in the existing project. Is it good to sell or is it permissible to sell the open source project to clients? Need suggestions please help.

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asked Apr 19 '12 at 14:33
16 points
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3 Answers


How is the Open Source project licensed?

It it has a permissive license like AL 2.0 (apache license) or BSD or MIT its fine to sell the modifications along the project.

If it is GPL'ed or has a similar license it is possible to sell, but you need to give your source code to your customer (+ of course the source code of the other GPL components).

If you have developed the open source product yourself, then you are able to change the license at own will.

That all being said, I am not a lawyer. You might want to ask a regional lawyer on this and you also might want to take a look into the license which should be delivered to you with the source code of the open source project. Watch out for a fiel named LICENSE and open it with your text editor.

answered Apr 19 '12 at 15:40
3,590 points
  • "If it is GPL'ed or has a similar license it is possible to sell, but you need to give your source code to your customer." - no, you need to publish you changes publicly and give to the customer all the code. – Ross 12 years ago
  • Ross, it's not true. You need to give it to your customers. If your product is avail for download, then it means the source code needs to be avail for download. Is it a hardware device, you need to send a cd with the code along. But you are not forced to put it on fe github. In fact, you can even charge money for sending out the source code (which does xt:commerce – Christian 12 years ago
  • I mean you need to give all the code: your+original one, not only your code. – Ross 12 years ago
  • Oh ok. Yes, I agree to that. – Christian 12 years ago


Yes you can, you can sell an open source project to someone, but you cannot:

  • pretend it is all your own work
  • hold back the source code, depending on the licence - read it.
  • expect them to be happy with you once they find out they've paid for free software.

I would say it is better to be upfront and honest, tell them the base product is free and open source, but that you are charging for your services in customising and modifying it for them.

I did some work for a friend a while back, his friend had paid a lot of money for a ecommerce website. I took a look and found it was osCommerce, free software that they were passing off as their own.

answered Apr 20 '12 at 09:01
249 points
  • Thanks for suggestions..... – Sam 12 years ago


What you are selling is your time to customize it and maintain it for their use. Many organizations use Drupal or WordPress for their company website. They pay an employee or consultant to configure it, and install add ons/plugins/modules. They may even hire you for training.

That is what you are selling them, expertise.

answered Apr 19 '12 at 21:58
Mhoran Psprep
644 points

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