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License Review for Shipping Products

Product releases that include distributing any kind of compiled code need to go through third-party license compliance review.

What products need license review?

  • Android apps
  • iOS apps
  • Desktop applications
  • Server applications
  • Consumer hardware
  • Manufacturing hardware
  • Shared libraries
  • Proprietary binary blobs
  • Anything else that contains something that started out as Google-authored source code and isn’t source anymore.

Virtually every Google and Alphabet product incorporates third-party software, so every product needs a third-party license review to ensure we are satisfying our license obligations. A license review is required whenever software is distributed outside of Google in binary or object code form. Source-only releases are covered by go/releasing and go/patching.

Compliance obligations for third-party dependencies vary. The Open Source Programs Office Compliance team will help you understand and satisfy your license obligations and make sure everything is OK before you ship.

For example, you may only need to display licenses in a settings menu. Alternatively, you might be surprised to find that you have source code sharing obligations that extend to the proprietary code in your product.

This review is a legal compliance requirement. It does not matter if your app or product is intended to be open source.

It’s important to go through go/licensereview with enough time to avoid last minute pre-launch surprises. The compliance team reviews license escalations every business day, but we recommend starting the process at least two weeks in advance, at least for your first launch.

How often do I need a license review?

Every time compiled software is distributed outside of Google, we incur license compliance obligations. A license review must be performed for the initial launch of any compiled software, and for every subsequent release. However, if the software ships multiple releases per month then a minimum of at least one license review per month is sufficient.

My product is open source, do I still need a license review?

The license review is a legal requirement for all shipped software, whether proprietary or open source.

When do I not need a license review?

If you are only releasing source code, please follow the process at go/releasing. If you are only contributing to an existing open source project, visit go/patching.

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