Which Open Source License Should We Choose?
Software developers 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.
First, Open Source Initiative maintains a comprehensive list of open source software licenses. Licenses are grouped into categories, starting with the most popular licenses. However, the OSI site does not provide any tools to help decide which open source license to use.
Second, the 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 Affero 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 an open source developer, there are ample resources to help you decide which open source license to use.
Check out other posts about open source licenses.
Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law +1 510-547-0545 dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.
Intellectual Property, Licensing