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Where can I find a single, comprehensive list of known software licenses? If possible, it would be useful if it covered both FLOSS licenses and commercial (possibly closed-source) licenses, but it would be helpful even if it only covered FLOSS licenses. I am currently aware of the following lists:

There is some overlap, but also some differences between these lists, so it does not appear that any one list completely subsumes the others. In addition, it's unclear how comprehensive they are. (For a point of comparison, Black Duck states their knowledgebase "includes information on more than 2,400 unique software licenses", which must be more than are contained in the lists above.)

The information I'm looking for about each license is minimal: a name, an acronym (if there is one), a version, and a link to a page describing the license. Licenses written in languages other than English are acceptable.

(In case it matters, my project is an open-source ontology effort.)

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    The problem is that everyone could make such a license and no one would notice that. Such a list would never be up to date – Info-Screen Jan 9 '16 at 8:21
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    There are several authoritative lists: the ones you list in the question! The OSI and FSF are the FLOSS authorities, so their lists are the authoritative ones. – curiousdannii Jan 9 '16 at 14:32
  • To whoever downvoted the question: I would appreciate it if you could explain why. The question appears appropriate for this forum, can lead to specific objective answers, is written clearly (IMHO), and generally seems to me to be a reasonable question. Maybe the answer is "there is no such list and none can be made", and that's okay too. I'd like to learn why the question itself deserves downvoting so that I can do better next time. – mhucka Jan 9 '16 at 17:00
  • @mhucka I downvoted it because the question itself has the answer. If you mean some authority other than the FSF or OSI then you really need to specify exactly what you're after. – curiousdannii Jan 10 '16 at 5:48
  • @mhucka Generally, questions with your title are often subjective, and closed for asking for "off-site resources". Don't get me wrong, the list that you have is probably better than anyone else. There's two main bodies that manage licenses: the FSF and the OSI. What you get from there is what's open source, and anything from Wikipedia will likely be all else. I'm somewhat reluctant to close it without seeing other votes (as my vote would be "binding", but just to let you know, I see a question peeking out somewhere in there. – Zizouz212 Jan 10 '16 at 21:58
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The most comprehensive list of open source licenses and notices I know of is the one that I helped and help compile continuously for ScanCode https://github.com/nexB/scancode-toolkit/tree/develop/src/licensedcode/data It also contains the SPDX and opensource.org licenses. This is an open data set :)

The information I'm looking for about each license is minimal: a name, an acronym (if there is one), a version, and a link to a page describing the license. Licenses written in languages other than English are acceptable.

These data are available as YAML files in ScanCode. The texts are plain texts.

(In case it matters, my project is an open-source ontology effort.)

This is awesome! If you are still working on it, this is something that could eventually make sense in ScanCode proper?

As a side note you state:

Black Duck states their knowledgebase "includes information on more than 2,400 unique software licenses

To the best of my knowledge, they are listing not actual unique licenses but several minor variations of MIT and BSD as distinct licenses. In ScanCode these variations are listed as "rules" or examples of notices if you prefer, not as licenses proper.

(Disclaimer: I am a co-founder of SPDX and a co-author of ScanCode)

  • And as a side note, ScanCode will also detect these licenses... this is the primary purpose for having created this data set – Philippe Ombredanne May 20 '16 at 16:52
  • This is excellent. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. – mhucka May 27 '16 at 5:31
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Such a comprehensive list is practically impossible, as everyone can make up a new license without registering it somewhere. So such a list can only contain licenses the authors of the list are aware of. The lists you named in the question are already the best lists I know of, but already these don't aim for completeness but selecting the most important.

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