Suppose I want to licence a project I have been working on for quite some time. The goals for this license are:

  • Open Source
  • Free to use
  • Never to be sold


What license would best suit my needs in this situation?

  • People can fork things.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 1:30
  • 2
    What exactly are your intentions behind the "never to be sold" restrictions? An exact definition is necessary to avoid loopholes and deals you might want or not want to allow, like commercial support services, commercial training or people doing private modifications in exchange for money.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 12:58
  • I NEVER want this product to be sold by ANYONE Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 13:01
  • What do you mean by 'Open Source'? As Mnementh identified, if you mean the sense used by the Open Source Initiative, then this contradicts your requirement that the software is never to be sold, so perhaps you meant something different.
    – bdsl
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 20:43

3 Answers 3


It's impossible, if you keep it Open Source, you can always sell it.

The Free Software Foundation says:

Actually, we encourage people who redistribute free software to charge as much as they wish or can. If a license does not permit users to make copies and sell them, it is a nonfree license.


Since free software is not a matter of price, a low price doesn't make the software free, or even closer to free. So if you are redistributing copies of free software, you might as well charge a substantial fee and make some money. Redistributing free software is a good and legitimate activity; if you do it, you might as well make a profit from it.

The Open Source Initiative says:

Can Open Source software be used for commercial purposes?

Absolutely. All Open Source software can be used for commercial purpose; the Open Source Definition guarantees this. You can even sell Open Source software.

However, there is a catch. As open source guarantees that everyone can freely redistributes it, everyone else can also redistribute the original software at no price. Or people get it directly from you. So probably selling it at an unreasonable price is not a working business model. You can make that sure by offering the software in as much channels as possible. Selling for a reasonable price though - is exactly what many commercial Linux distributions do.

  • 1
    The last paragraph is only true for strong copyleft licenses like the GPL, not for permissive licenses like BSD or MIT which allow to distribute modified versions under different license conditions.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 12:56
  • @Philipp: The original software is still available. So everyone can take the Apache webserver and sell it under a close proprietary license. But the original Apache is still available, so it might turn out not be a very good business model. That is completely independent from copyleft or permissive licenses.
    – Mnementh
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 20:21
  • @Philipp: Although I see I spoke about the sold copy, you are right. I should edit my post.
    – Mnementh
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 20:23

This model exists as a Creative Commons license, although not as a software license, as far as I know. It's the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike-License.

You could still, as the original copyright holder, write your own license that allows redistribution under the same license, but no commercial uses. It would grant almost the same rights like an Open Source license, but it wouldn't be termed Open Source by either the FSF or the OSI.

  • Though "not allowing selling" is something else than "not allowing commercial use" (e.g. if a company uses this software to do something, this would be commercial use, but not selling the software). Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 18:48

I believe that GNU Affero GPL v3.0 might serves you well. As described bellow:


GPL is the most widely used free software license and has a strong copyleft requirement. When distributing derived works, the source code of the work must be made available under the same license. There are multiple variants of the GPL, each with different requirements.

I will not avoid the Never be sold, but forces who uses to open its source too.

For more details, pay a visit to this site from GitHub that was the source of previous quote.

  • 4
    The quote seems to be about the GPL, but your answer says AGPL.
    – unor
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 13:02
  • 1
    AGPL is a GPL variant that closes the software as a service loophole.
    – hildred
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 3:50
  • Thanks for the clarification @hildred, I'm pretty green in it yet, but still trying to help o/
    – Caputo
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 9:41

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