Licensing Artifex Products

Open Source Licensing Basics

There are a several key definitions that are important to understand when determining whether your product or project qualifies for an open source license or requires a commercial license from Artifex for our Ghostscript and MuPDF products. To clarify requirements, we’ve provided you with a brief overview of these concepts.

“Distribute” vs. “Use” – These two words are often used interchangeably, but there are important differences.

  • “Use” – Anyone can “use” open source software for a wide range of applications, as long as that “use” is contained within your organization or group and not shared outside that entity. Sharing beyond your organization would be considered a “distribution”, not a “use”. If your organization restricts how it uses AGPL software, then this would qualify as an acceptable use of our products under the AGPL.
  • “Distribution” occurs when an individual or an organization provides a product or application to a third party outside of the organization. When our AGPL technologies are included in or in conjunction with a product that is “Distributed,” we classify this as a “derivative work” that requires a commercial license from Artifex.

“Derivative Work” – It is easier to explain what does not constitute a derivative work for our products. In order to not be derivative, a product must meet both of the following two criteria:

  • It must be conspicuous and clear to the end user that he/she is getting two separate pieces of software (i.e., Ghostscript or AGPL MuPDF in addition to the host product), AND
  • The end user must have the ability to opt out of installing the AGPL version of our products during the install process.

If the above two criteria are met, then the application is not considered derivative and may conform to the AGPL license if all of the other AGPL terms and conditions are met. Some of these additional obligations include:

  • Full source code for the entire application suite must be publicly available.
  • The available source code must be for the current build (not some older version).
  • Each AGPL module must be separable and/or replaceable.

If each of these criteria are NOT met, then we classify the end product/application as a derivative work that will require a commercial license from Artifex.

We provide two of our technologies, AGPL Ghostscript and AGPL MuPDF, under the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL). You can find more information on the AGPL on the GNU web site.

More information on the various licensing options available for our three products follows below.

Artifex licensing

Artifex has different licensing approaches for our different products. Ghostscript and MuPDF are available under both Open Source and commercial license arrangements, while SmartOffice is available only under a commercial license for OEM partners and under an end-user license (as an end-user solution).

Ghostscript and MuPDF

Artifex is the exclusive commercial licensing agent for Ghostscript software and MuPDF. There is no “public domain” version of Ghostscript or MuPDF. All versions of Ghostscript and MuPDF are provided under one of two licenses (Commercial or AGPL Open Source) described below.

The kind of distribution or use you plan to make of Ghostscript or MuPDF will determine whether you need a commercial license from Artifex. If you plan to distribute Ghostscript or MuPDF in one of your products or make them available to your SaaS or ASP customers, you should understand the differences between these licenses.

Please note that the rules below apply even if you ship or make available a free demonstration version of your own product or application. An “application,” as referenced below, can be any type of software product or application, tool, system or utility.


    (Artifex Ghostscript and Artifex MuPDF)


    A commercial license is required if your application (including source code) is NOT licensed to the public under the AGPL and

    • you intend to distribute Ghostscript or MuPDF to a third party for use with (or usable by) your application, or
    • you intend to allow your users to remotely interact with AGPL Ghostscript or AGPL MuPDF along with your application.

    In the above circumstances, if any one of the following is true you are not authorized to ship AGPL versions of Ghostscript or MuPDF. A commercial license is required If your application:

    • contains a copy of some or all of AGPL Ghostscript or MuPDF.
    • is derived from, based on or constitutes a revision of some or all of AGPL Ghostscript or MuPDF.
    • includes one or more functions that use some or all of AGPL versions of Ghostscript or MuPDF.

    The above criteria apply to your application as a whole. Even if only one section satisfies one of the above criteria, you cannot use AGPL versions of our software and need a commercial license.


    (AGPL Ghostscript and AGPL MuPDF)


    If your entire application, including all source code, is licensed to the public under the GNU Alfero General Public License (AGPL), you can provide either of our AGPL products with your application without a commercial license.

    The terms of the AGPL require that your application be licensed as a whole at no charge at all to third parties.

    If your use of AGPL Ghostscript or AGPL MuPDF is such that you will not be distributing to a third party (e.g., creating an internal newsletter or database to be used within your organization), you are authorized to use these AGPL versions and to allow your users to remotely interact with these versions along with your application.


    (Artifex Ghostscript and Artifex MuPDF)


    Generally speaking, “distribution” is the key word. Some examples of distribution/network use requiring a commercial license include:

    • Distributing Ghostscript or MuPDF (or any component) within your non-AGPL application.
    • Distributing Ghostscript or MuPDF on the same media with your non-AGPL application for use with and/or by your application.
    • Distributing Ghostscript or MuPDF embedded within hardware (such as a multi-function printer or RIP).
    • Running Ghostscript or MuPDF on your network servers and permitting non-employees access to interact with these products as part of your non-AGPL application. Example: utilizing Ghostscript to interpret and display a PDF on a cloud application.

    These are illustrative examples only and do not cover all the situations that require a commercial license.

    Please contact us and we’ll help confirm the type of license you may need for your intended use.


    (AGPL Ghostscript and AGPL MuPDF)


    There are a number of situations that qualify for use of AGPL Ghostscript or MuPDF under terms of the AGPL license. Some examples include:

    • Use Ghostscript to translate old PostScript files into PDF files for use in generating internal reports or documents (within organization).
    • Use of Ghostscript for research and education purposes (e.g., developing a prototype for a college computer science project) that are not distributed to third parties for additional use.
    • Use Ghostscript within an IT department for internal uses only.

    These are illustrative examples and do not cover all the situations that may qualify for an AGPL license.

    If you have a question as to whether your project qualifies, please contact us and we’ll help clarify whether you qualify for open source licensing of our products.

Which is right for you?

We recommend that all commercial entities that wish to distribute Ghostscript or MuPDF, or make them available to SaaS or ASP customers, enter into the Artifex Commercial License agreement. This frees you from having to conform to the requirements and restrictions of the AGPL licenses, it also provides you with additional benefits and rights, such as access to on-going commercial version updates and support.

Contact us and we’ll help you select the appropriate version for your intended use and your needs.


SmartOffice offers commercial licenses only (there is no open source version). The SmartOffice mobile app may be downloaded from iTunes and Google Play for individual use. There are also several different versions of SmartOffice available for enterprise use, depending on your intended use and needs. These include:

    • SmartOffice Mobile App – Full featured, SmartOffice branded app.
    • SmartOffice DevKit – A customizable version of SmartOffice to facilitate integration within an existing mobile security platform or enterprise brand presentation.
    • Viewer Only versions of the above two products
    • Versions designed for embedding in various hardware and software products.

We have a complete listing of all available SmartOffice products for commercial licensing.

Contact us if you are interested in a trial version of SmartOffice for evaluation.