I just came across the SimPL License which is described as:

This Simple Public License 2.0 (SimPL-2.0 for short) is a plain language implementation of GPL 2.0. The words are different, but the goal is the same - to guarantee for all users the freedom to share and change software. If anyone wonders about the meaning of the SimPL, they should interpret it as consistent with GPL 2.0.

It's certainly easier to read than the GPL, but is that a good thing? Legally, can I be confident something licensed under the SimPL is protected as well as something licensed under the GPL? Are there any disadvantages to using the SimPL?

1 Answer 1


It is unacknowledged by the FSF, but was approved by the OSI in 2007.

There are two main problems with "custom licenses":

  1. ghettoization - where the custom license creates its own ghetto with code that nobody else can use because of license incompatibilities

  2. legal hazards - where the terms of the license is not precise enough to be usable in litigation

The SimPL 2.0 has explicit provisons to allow downstream re-licensing to GPLv2 and GPLv3, so in that respect it works like GPLv2+ - there is no risk of ghettoization.

I just had a quick read-through, but it looks like it should stand up in court as well. They've converted some of the twisty little passages of GPL, such as the patent-clause, into much shorter and more easy to understand language.

I could not spot any obvious omissions (but this is the Internet, and I spent about 5 minutes on it, so don't treat this as professional advice). The bottom line is: until it is tested in court, we don't really know how well it will stand up.

I tried to search for case law involving this, but could not find any. It sees to fly under the radar on all the sites that do statistics on license use, so I do not think it has seen much use yet.

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    It says "Licensing it to everyone under SimPL, or substantially similar terms (such as GPL 2.0)" is allowed. I think "substantially similar terms" is a dangerous phrase because it is so vague. I'm not sure it is equivalent to GPLv2+.
    – Soong
    Sep 14, 2015 at 13:10

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