Software Technologist may have decided to provide open source software, but they may not know which open source license to use. This post describes three resources developers can consult to help make that decision.
Open Source Licences Explained
It’s important to note that there are no good or bad licenses, and that no one license is better than another. Anyone can create an open source license that suits their fancy, which is the reason that there are so many out there. This could make choosing an open source license complicated business, especially for those of us who are not well versed in the law and have never had open source licenses explained thoroughly. In order to help narrow down the decision and make sense of it all, the OSI put together a list of approved licenses, consisting of a little over 80 open source licenses that are most commonly used.
Civic Commons Choosing a License page provides a simple way to choose among the most popular open source licenses.
- “Anything goes” licenses only require attribution in a specified manner. These include BSD 2-clause and 3-clause, MIT, and Apache License, Version 2.0.
- “Copyleft” / “viral” licenses require that derivative works be distributed under the same terms. These include GNU General Public License, version 3 and GNU General Public License, version 3.
Finally, GitHub, Inc. recently provided its straightforward selection guide.
- Simple and permissive – MIT License.
- Permissive including a grant of patent rights – Apache v2 License.
- Requiring that improvements be shared – GPL v2 or v3.
So if you are a software technologist, there are ample resources to help you decide which open source license to use.
This blog does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.