I have some small projects under different open source licenses (I like BSD and GPLv2).

I would like to license some new projects under an OSI approved license but make sure any other OSI-approved license can use too. Assume all the code is owned by me (or I can get the consent of all the copyright owners).

Does it suffice for example to say this:

FooBar is licensed under the simplified BSD license (2-clause). 
See the LICENSE.txt file for the full description.

You can use this under any OSI approved license.

I do not want to do any public domain dedication: Public domain dedication does not have clear implications in some countries and does not prevent it from being used in project licensed under non-OSI-approved licenses.

In simple terms, the question is this:

Is there any license that I can choose which makes sure the code will remain OSI approved but does not care exactly how people use it? Something that a GPL project can simply link against, same as any project with BSD or MIT, or any other OSI-approved license? I know some of these licenses cannot be mixed with the rest, so is there any that all are happy with?

  • Hello there! I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to do here: is this a problem with attribution? You need to tell us what licenses you are using, and what you want others to do. You're subject to terms in other licenses as well: keep that in mind. If you are asking us to recommend a license, use the license-recommendation tag, and visit How do I ask for a license recommendation?
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 20:58
  • Yes it is license recommendation, want to see which license (if any) is hte common denominator, and all the rest can mix it with their project.
    – dashesy
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 21:58
  • I believe if you license under MIT it can be used by almost any OSI license.
    – user2594
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 23:04
  • Alright. You've got a much better question now :D However, it could still use just a touch more of improvement before I will reopen. What do you mean by I do not want to do public license?. Is all the code written by you? Is there some parts of the project that aren't yours? How are they licensed?
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 23:12
  • @Zizouz212 clarified more :) assume it is new, and I am the sole copyright owner (or that I can get all the copyright owners to agree on the license). No public license because I want to still make sure only OSI approved licenses can use the code.
    – dashesy
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 23:30

2 Answers 2


The chart below displays the compatibility of some of the most popular licenses from David A. Wheeler found via Stack Overflow: Is there a chart of which OSS License is compatible with which?: A diagram of popular license compatibility.

From this, as far as I can tell you have three options (MIT, X11, 0BSD, public domain, or BSD-new) which are compatible with most downstream licenses. From my understanding BSD "simplified" (2-clause) is compatible with BSD-new, BSD (3-clause) and therefore, would also be an option compatible with some of the most popular downstream licenses.

  • This is perfect, and I am sure many will benefit from it. Did you create the chart?
    – dashesy
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 22:29
  • No, as I have added it was created by David A. Wheeler.
    – user2594
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 22:33
  • Such a nice question/answer is closed in SO as off-topic, glad we have OpenSource now, but it is annoying to see clearly useful information is closed 4 years after it is posted (for what?)!!! Maybe they should be at least migrated here.
    – dashesy
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 22:46
  • @dashesy It is to old to migrate.
    – user2594
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 23:26
  • For the sake of completeness, there is also a 0-clause BSD license 0BSD that can sit before MIT in that graph. It is public domain but is a license.
    – dashesy
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 16:24

It does not help for you to add a line stating your intention to be compatible with all OSI licenses. You have to choose a license, and that license is compatible (or not) with other licenses. At worst, adding that line is 'crayon-licensing' with uncertain legal consequences.

The general view is that the MIT license is an example of a 'type O' -- a universal donor. As it does not make any statements about patents, nor impose any copyleft obligations, it's hard to see how any OSI license can pose a barrier to use of content under it.

  • that is what I was afraid of, thanks. Is MIT the only one or can it be BSD (2 clause) for example or anything else?
    – dashesy
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 20:20
  • @dashesy BSD 2 clause is functionally equivalent to MIT so the same reasoning applies. Note that the "BSD new" in the flowchart on the other question refers to the 3-clause BSD. Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 0:18

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