Open Source isn’t the same as free: Open Source just means that the code can be modified because its design is publicly accessible. That is a big plus for developers.
Anything involving humans is never free. Software costs money to both create and improve.
An iText commercial license provides advantages not available with the open-source AGPL license. Specific benefits include:
Indemnification in the event of IP (intellectual property) or patent infringement
Release from the requirements of the copyleft AGPL license, which include:
distribution of all source code, including your own product (even for web-based applications)
licensing of your own product under the AGPL license
prominent mention and inclusion of the iText copyright and the AGPL license
disclosure of modifications
Release from the requirement to not change the PDF Producer line in the generated PDF properties
Only commercial licensees have access to commercial iText support.
You can check the estimated effort on this Ohloh page.
If you release an application that uses iText and release it under an AGPLv3 compatible license, you can use the AGPL version of iText. If in doubt you can contact sales. We would also like to hear from your AGPL projects and listen to your user cases.
We strongly discourage the use of versions prior to iText(Sharp) 5 for both technical as well as legal reasons.
TECHNICAL REASONS: the MPL/LGPL version of iText(Sharp) dates from July 2009. Many bugs have been solved in the meantime. For instance: we fixed a bug that was hard to reproduce, and that made a row in a table disappear if specific conditions were met. These conditions occurred in only a very small fraction of the total number of rows added to tables. Also: the spec has evolved. For instance: digital signatures in the pre-5 versions of iText are either forbidden (in the PAdES standard) or will be deprecated (in ISO-32000-2). Suppose you still use those old signatures, then you automatically exclude yourself from extending the life of the signed document for instance by using LTV (PAdES part 4).
LEGAL REASONS: Older versions of iText under the free model may contain code fragments that infringe other people's copyrights or intellectual property rights. iText Software Group has done a significant investment in identifying and eliminating all those cases as of version 5.1. which is one of the reasons why it is now a paying commercial version. We do not recommend the use of versions prior to 5.1 for commercial projects as your company could be liable for copyright or IP infringements.
There is no cost for the old version of iText, but there is a cost to the quality of your application.
If you decide to use this deprecated version, you don't need to purchase a license but we hope you reconsider!
Major changes have been made to the library over the years including code clean ups which fixed all previous bugs, security-related functionality (encryption and digital signatures,) and most importantly, as of iText 5.x, we are the sole owner of 100% of iText code which relieves your organization and your customers of any and all legal implications.
Since iText 5 was released, we have moved to a dual licensing model: AGPL/Commercial. Because you are using an older version of iText, the code may be the property of someone else which can lead to copyright infringement claims by the owner of that intellectual property.
In addition, versions predating iText 5 are no longer supported or maintained. We have removed these obsolete versions from all official download sites; which means they're only available on unofficial sites.
Please be very careful when downloading such a version. It may contain code that behaves differently from what is described in the documentation and might be harmful. No one at iText will be able to help you with problems that arise from the use of an unofficial iText or iTextSharp version.
Important note: we are aware of some bugs previous to version 5.3, in particular a bug for supporting +2gb files up to version 5.2. We have also removed all 5.2.x versions from the different download sites.
95% of our customers sign up for the iText updates and support agreement, even if only to get the latest versions of the software and take advantage of new functionality, bug fixes, etc. When extending the updates and support agreement every year, you can rest assured that if you ever do have an issue with iText, you'll have direct access to our support system and developers.
Our Updates and Support agreement is not mandatory, but we strongly recommend it (especially for new users). Read more on our Updates and Support agreement.
We continue to invest in the further development and documentation of our product to create the most up to date, fastest processing software. Recent developments include:
PDF/A (Long term archiving) support
Participation in the standardization of PDF and digital signature boards
Continued investment in the further development of our product to create the most up to date and fastest processing software.
We are confident you and your organization will benefit from the new, expanded functionality, security, and support in the latest version of iText and plan to release lots of white papers in the future.
Signing up for our Updates and Support agreement will make iText grow as a product, and you will be able to take advantage from that.
Because as an integrator:
you and your customer can benefit from reduced quantity pricing (OEM)
you have direct access to the PDF expertise of iText Software to make sure our developers make the right design decisions
requests for future features will be taken into account by iText Software when making decisions about the technical roadmap
you may receive leads from iText Software for future integrations
iText Software is a software publisher. The implementation portion of the business is yours if you are willing to learn and implement iText as a value added reseller. However, we'll always recommend companies to work with an integrator that has a business relationship with us.