I'm about to launch my current project as Open Source. People should feel free to do with the code whatever they want and luckily there are quite a few licensing options to choose from.

So I'm looking for something very permissive. I've heard of the WTFPL and that sounds about right. There are other variants around as well though.

Should I care? I mean, people should do with the code whatever they want. What would be the difference between not putting any copyright on it and putting such a very permissive copyright on it?

  • 5
    One advantage of the MIT license is that it is well known; pretty much everyone knows what you can and can't do with it. Not so with lesser known licenses such as the WTFPL. Plus, the WTFPL is potentially "offensive" to some people...
    – user38
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:03
  • MIT isn't too bad, but I'm looking for something even more permissive. MITS still has restrictions.
    – Mast
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:09
  • 1
    WTFPL is effectively Public Domain. With WTFPL you will get the occasional discussions about usage of the word Fuck, however - depends on you if you want to have those or not. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:07
  • WTFPL was just an example, perhaps a poor one. It was the 'most free license' I could find.
    – Mast
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:12
  • It's not generally possible to "not put any copyright on it" - in many countries any work is copyright from the time you create it. The WTFPL is a licence, not a copyright.
    – bdsl
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 14:07

4 Answers 4


If you are looking for something very permissive then you do have to use a license. Quoting GitHub's help page about licensing:

Generally speaking, the absence of a license means that the default copyright laws apply. This means that you retain all rights to your source code and that nobody else may reproduce, distribute, or create derivative works from your work.

You might like the MIT license, which is a permissive, popular and OSI-approved license.

  • Is OSI approval important?
    – Mast
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:08
  • 3
    @Mast If you use an OSI-approved license, you can be sure that you can trust it.
    – ProgramFOX
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:12
  • 4
    You make a very good point about the difference between using a license and not using a license, so you'll get my accepted mark. However, MIT is not permissive enough. Unihedron's suggestion for Unlicense is a better fit.
    – Mast
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 20:32
  • 4
    @Mast "Is OSI approval important?" is a great question in itself. See opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/71/…
    – mattdm
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 22:13

http://choosealicense.com/licenses/ also has a listing of licenses as well as comprehensive listings of what they are capable of. For your purposes, WTFPL and The Unlicense provides an ultimately high freedom for your code to be reused.

  • 2
    Unlicense sounds like a very good fit.
    – Mast
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:12
  • @Mast Indeed, and I use it when I share scrap code. Unlike other answers, which addresses reliable licenses, the options here simply provide high freedom. If other concerns raise, MIT is a very good candidate.
    – Unihedron
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:14

There's an excellent site that explains license types in plain English. https://tldrlegal.com/.

The TL;DR version to that, that if you want a permissive license, go with either MIT or Apache License, the main difference being that Apache License requires modifiers to keep a disclaimer and copyright line untouched.


I would go with the MIT or BSD 2-Clause licence, because they're for one thing well known (as stated by Carpetsmoker), and because they can't hold you liable when something goes wrong and because (as well stated by Carpetsmoker) is some people might get all funky about the Do What The F*ck You Want licence.

You're not restricted to a license that's already out there; you can make your own license if you want to. The PHP Group uses their own license. You could make it so that people can do what the hell they would want to do with it, but can't hold you liable.

The downside to having your own license is that it won't be recognized as much as the PHP License or MIT License would be.

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