Can People Use Open Source Software for Commercial Purposes?

Open source software is known for being open to others, in the sense that the source code can be used, reused and otherwise redistributed as the person pleases. Open source defines software so that it can be used in any way that you want to use it.

However, what does that mean for companies who want to use open source software for their own business? Could you make money off someone else’s work, like open source programs? You could, of course, though there might be limitations, but not the kind that you expected.

What Open Source Means

By the definition, open source software is code that is free to be seen, used, reused, copied, distributed, changed and otherwise repackaged in any shape and size. This means that anything open source you can download and use to your heart’s content. So, by definition, it appears that you can definitely use open source software for commercial purposes, to make money.

How does that work? Don’t you need to give them any credit? Not really, it’s open source and that’s the whole point. You could do more than just make money off the software.

Selling Open Source Software is Allowed

By definition, you could also sell open source software. However, since it is open source, anyone could also attempt to sell it. While this could work for a limited amount of time, you are likely to get in trouble once the customers realize that they can simply download the software for free.

When it comes to earning money by using open source software, it is encouraged. It is open source, so if you use Audacity to edit audio, Blender to edit a video and make video using these things, earning money in the process, then more power to you.

There are caveats to what you can do, though it has nothing to do with the software and the code.

Logos and Brand Names, They Are Off Limits

You have to realize that things like logos and brand names are copyrighted and that these are the things you cannot use. While you can use open source software to your heart’s content, you cannot use the logo or brand name of the company that maintains and develops the said software.

This is basic copyright stuff, logos and brand names are off limits, but the code isn’t so long the code’s open source. If you’re gonna make money using open source software, do not use the companies’ logos.

Yes, you can make money using open source software and you could even sell the software, though the latter is anything but recommended due to the nature of open source and the internet.

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