Working on software with no official license and one large customer. It's currently managed in a public git repo. Want to ensure continued funding to maintain and enhance the software. There are concerns about keeping it public, jeopardizing the intellectual-property and continued funding. For example, say another institution copies the software, rebrands it and then wins bids from this large customer.

From this answer, it sounds like adding restrictions on commercial use of the software is not generally accepted by the open source community. One reason cited is to protect the users from software being abandoned. In our case, it's possible that the users, who are not the same as the customer, would actually suffer if funding went to someone else who commercialized the software but couldn't maintain it.

Is there an example of a license that allows the source to remain public, but not commercialized by another institution?

  • 1
    Could you elaborate your question a bit? may be add details and which open source license your are considering and what is the exact problem you are facing? As described it is a tad hard to understand what is your problem. Oct 21, 2016 at 7:37
  • 2
    Also note that until the software has been published with an open source license, the software is not open source. And indeed, adding restriction on commercial use would contradict the principles of free/open source software.
    – Zimm i48
    Oct 21, 2016 at 9:28
  • Thanks for comments. From this it appears that without explicitly declaring a license, then the source is copyrighted.
    – coodo99
    Oct 21, 2016 at 16:17
  • To your current final question (license to make source public but not for commercialization), I have a partial answer (3rd paragraph here opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/4532#4532) but basically the tldr is that you would need a lawyer to help you draft it, and it wouldn't be open source so you would lose part of the help you could get if it were. For instance, on this website, we wouldn't be able to help you further.
    – Zimm i48
    Oct 21, 2016 at 21:56
  • If you want to make it private, then put it on bit bucket. You can have up to 5 users for gratis, or unlimited on a public repo. But your customer will want access, and a nice GPL licence if they have any sense. Oct 24, 2016 at 17:22


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