Open Source Licenses
I've been working on a small piece of software that I plan on releasing with an open source license. There are so many licenses out there that I often forget what differentiates them. So I put together a small chart outlining some of the differences.
The recent debacle with Ray Camden's blog software is a good example of what can happen when you don't have a clear license. Some open source licenses require derivatives to be open source. Other licenses allow derivatives to be sold commercially, or sub-licensed (this is what Apple does with Darwin - which is based on BSD).
I picked out the some of the most popular licenses to compare. A full text copy of each license may be found at the Open Source Institute.
|Disclaimer of liability||x||x||x||x||x|
|Preserve Copyright Notice||x||x||x||x||x|
|Can be used in commercial closed source software||x||-||*||x||x|
|Can be sublicensed||*||-||-||*||x|
|Prevents the authors name from being used to promote derived works.||x||x||x||x||-|
x = yes
- = no
* = under certain circumstances, yes
Are there any other points to compare?
I am not an attorney, and this article is based upon my interpretations of the licenses, which may be incorrect. This information has been posted for my own use. It in no way constitutes legal advice. You should hire an attorney and read the licenses yourself before making any decisions.
Additionally any comments posted by third parties should not be taken as legal advice.
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Open Source Licenses was first published on January 19, 2006.
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It should be noted that as long as the code is yours, you can also dual-license the code (e.g., GPL/LGPL and second license for commertial development). I believe that MySQL and QT use this dual licensing model. This only works if all the contributors of code agree to the dual license.
Kudos. Very concise little table to take the place of pages and pages of licensing stuff. What I've put out in the past has been GPL (the OS autopilot choice); my creative stuff (articles and podcasts) is going out as Creative Commons as I have tapped into Creative Commons stuff as source material.
Jim: I hadn't heard about "Academic Free License" I'll have to look it up.
In 99% of the cases, I think the CF Community is very open, cooperative, and sensible. That was an interesting read on R. Camden's blog... I think the incident he ran into with that person is the exception, not the norm.
It's great to be involved in a community as cooperative as the ColdFusion Community!
thanks for the cheat sheet, i think it will be very useful to the community.
i got this article looking for information about open source licenses. I want to choose a license for a project and basically what i need to cover is this. You can use the code and modify it as you want, but if there is any comercial activity with my stuff you need to come to us and negotiate a commercial license. Do you think there is any license that behave like this?
The use of GPL3 code on web application servers is going to be hotly debated in regards to making source code available.