As my graduation work I'm working on a simple web application. I read a bit through documentation for licenses but my head hurts from it. All I know is that I don't want GPL

I plan on making the initial work open source. But I also want to be able to fork it and distribute that fork as a closed source program (someone else or even myself). Aka be able to use it as a template. I'm writing it from scratch (with occasional help from stack overflow) and (since I'm a beginner) am writing it in basic PHP, HTML with Mysql/MariaDB and a tiny bit of JS (the less javascript the better, no nodejs or bootstrap etc)

What would be the best license to release it under?

  • 1
    If the code is 100% yours then it doesn't matter what license you choose, you can always release it with any other license. If you accept other people's contributions, then just choose a permissive license: MIT or Apache. Commented Nov 14, 2021 at 22:44
  • Thanks for the fast and clear answer! Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 9:17

1 Answer 1


First of all you should check if your university/school has put up any rules about the licenses under which students can publish their work.

Then you need to check for license compatibility with any of the OSS components you are using. You are mentioning databases, but there might be other libraries you are using and you need to make sure that you respect the requirements of these licenses.

After having considered the first two items you can pick any license that matches these requirements.

As long as you are the only author of the software you can later use the code with any other license, even proprietary or commercial. Having said that, you will have to respect the licenses of any 3rd party code you are including. For example, if you are using a library which is under the GPL license, then it is unlikely that you will be able to turn your own code into a closed-source project.

The original publication of your code with the original license does not go away, other people will still be able to use your code once published under an OSS license, even after you have decided to re-use your code for a proprietary/commercial project.

  • Thanks The only 3rd party library I use is PHPMailer, which seems to be GNU. But if I understand its license correctly I can distribute it without releasing the sources only if I modify it, right? I'm not modifying the library itself. As for the database that would be up to the user to install themselves, I mentioned it because I use mysqli() in php. Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 9:17
  • If you need help with PHPMailer then you should ask another question. Otherwise you can use the SEARCH on this site to check if there is already an answer. Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 13:35
  • PHP mailer uses LGPL
    – Nate T
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 4:28

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