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Is itext free?

ahmed dohar
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 06, 2009
Posts: 26
Is itext free and open source?
Bruno Lowagie
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 23, 2006
Posts: 88
ahmed dohar wrote:Is itext free and open source?


iText is released under the AGPL, a Free/Open Source license written by the Free Software Foundation and OSI approved. The very first versions of iText used to be released as MPL/LGPL, but the use of the LGPL has been discouraged by the Free Software Foundation for several years now, because the LGPL meant that people could use the software in a commercial context without ever having to contribute something back to the community. The migration to AGPL in December 2009 solved this problem.

Executive summary of what this means:
iText can be used as free software if the project/product/application using iText is released under the same terms. In other words: the software using iText has to be AGPL too: The contribution to the community consists of code.
iText can be used in a commercial context if a commercial license is bought: The contribution to the community consists of money that is used to improve the product.

Please consult your legal department if you want to understand the full implications of the AGPL.
Note that iText is a Belgian product, and that the interpretation of "free" according to Belgian law can be different from the laws in your country. See for instance Belgian court Creative-Commons jurisprudence.
Hauke Ingmar Schmidt
Rancher

Joined: Nov 18, 2008
Posts: 433
    
    2
I am not sure about the consequences.

When programming an in-house application, the obligation to give the users access to the source code is trivial. But has this any consequences when the generated documents are distributed?

Thanks.
Bruno Lowagie
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 23, 2006
Posts: 88
Hauke Ingmar Schmidt wrote:I am not sure about the consequences.

When programming an in-house application, the obligation to give the users access to the source code is trivial. But has this any consequences when the generated documents are distributed?


The AGPL was written because the GPL had a loophole when used in a SaaS context: the GPL only talks about "the distribution of the software". In a SaaS context, the software remains on a server somewhere. The AGPL makes sure that documents created as part of a service without distributing the software are covered by the F/OSS license too.
Mark Storer
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 02, 2010
Posts: 9
Bruno Lowagie wrote:...


The short version:

Yes.

Under the AGPL, anyone with access to the program's output needs to also have access to the source.


Mark Storer
iTextSoftware.com
Lester Burnham
Rancher

Joined: Oct 14, 2008
Posts: 1337
... the bottom line of which is that the AGPL version of iText is a complete non-starter for just about any business application.
Mark Storer
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 02, 2010
Posts: 9
Lester Burnham wrote:... the bottom line of which is that the AGPL version of iText is a complete non-starter for just about any business application.


The AGPL version of iText is equivalent to any other commercial PDF library for just about any business application (with a comparable feature set, and you get the source for free which costs Much More for other libraries). Nice try though.

Or you can stick with the pre-AGPL version, 2.1.7.
Lester Burnham
Rancher

Joined: Oct 14, 2008
Posts: 1337
Mark Storer wrote:The AGPL version of iText is equivalent to any other commercial PDF library for just about any business application (with a comparable feature set, and you get the source for free which costs Much More for other libraries).

I think I'm missing something. The AGPL version of iText requires the app's source code to be available to people who get iText-produced PDFs; at least that's how I read your previous post. You seem to be saying that's identical to how other commercially-licensed PDF work, but looking at such products as ElegantJ and Aspose I see no requirement of this kind. Please clarify what you meant.
Mark Storer
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 02, 2010
Posts: 9
Apologies for the confusion.

iText in fact has two separate licenses.

1) AGPL, not exactly suitable for commercial use.

2) Commercial license, which costs about what you'd expect given iText's feature set.
 
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