I'm currently working on a project related to georeferenced analysis of entomological and epidemiological data of Dengue fever. The project aims to help a public institution and it's supposed to be completely free because they don't want to incur in extra expenses yet. I'm sorry if it feels as if I'm lacking effort, I'm just not confident enough I understand these licenses.

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    If you need legal advice, talk to an actual lawyer. – Philip Kendall Apr 20 '17 at 20:42
  • I don't have access to a lawyer – AFP_555 Apr 20 '17 at 22:00
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    Read the Free Software definition, then the Open-Source definition (in that order). You will see that software with Free/open-sources licenses give you some freedoms. – ctrl-alt-delor May 10 '17 at 20:44
  • This is not off topic, but you need to break this down in multiple simpler and smaller questions – Philippe Ombredanne Dec 31 '17 at 9:19
  • You also need to say what you intend to do with the software and what you don't want to happen. Are you going to make the project and let other people run it? Distribute the software internally? externally? Do you want other people to be able to use and change and distribute the software on their own? – David Thornley Sep 10 at 15:49
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You ask only about using the software; that is, you don't intend to modify it. Your primary concern is cost. That said, BSD, Apache, and MIT licensed software should be fine for you and your end-user to use without payment or any other (significant) obligation.

GPL2/3 are both trickier, because you are not the intended end-user of the software. When you convey the software to the end user, you will incur the obligation to provide them with sources. They, provided they do not convey it outside their organisation, will incur no further obligation. No one should incur cost, save the costs associated with providing sources.

AGPL is trickier still. Although no payment is required in order to use it, the source obligation of GPL applies to the conveyance from you to the organisation. Furthermore, if your use includes a web service which can interact with users, the operator of the service will incur the obligation to create a mechanism by which users can get copies of the source.

Numpy I am not going to consider. It is now well-understood in the community that crayon licenses are a bad idea, not least because they require much more detailed study to properly understand.

Edit: as Bart points out below, and I am grateful to him for so doing, the Numpy licence is 3-clause BSD with the serial numbers filed off, as it were. So you should be fine on that score, too. But the Numpy developers still deserve a slap for not simply using 3-clause BSD - licence proliferation is still a bad thing, even if they're all the same licence with lots of different names.

As ever, IANAL/IANYL. Philip Kendall is right that lawyers should be consulted if there is doubt; you might not have any, but the public institution should, and it needs to properly understand its obligations in order that it may fulfil them.

  • The NumPy license is not a crayon license. It is the 3-clause BSD license. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Sep 10 at 15:57
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau I read it at the time, and I admit, failed to notice that. But if they wanted 3-clause BSD then why in the name of God did they not just use 3-clause BSD? Moreover, I'm not immediately convinced by the legality of the Numpy project's copying 3-clause BSD and sticking their copyrights all over it. Those failings do rather make my spider senses tingle. – MadHatter Sep 10 at 22:31
  • The only difference between the license of NumPy and the standard 3-clause BSD license that i could find was that the term "copyright holder" was replaced by "NumPy Developers", which is also listed as the copyright holder in the copyright statement. And actually, on the homepage of NumPy and the wikipedia page about it, the license is identified as being a BSD license. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Sep 11 at 6:20

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