I'm working on an Android app that I plan on uploading to the Play Store as a paid listing. I also want to make it open source.

I'm perfectly fine with people building it for personal use, but I want to try to prevent re-distribution, at least on the Play Store and XDA. I was thinking about using the MIT license and modifying it to add the condition, but I've learned this is called a "crayon license," and that it's not a good way to do things.

OSS licenses aren't exactly my forte, and I was directed here for help. What should I do?

I'm fine with modified builds being distributed anywhere the author likes, just as long as it's more than changing the app name and/or colors. Someone pointed out the app Conversations which is licensed under GPLv3, paid and OSS. Is this the way to go?

  • I gotta ask though, do you think a license clause will really prevent people from redistributing?
    – Seth
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 1:47
  • @Seth no, but I don't mind as long as it's not on XDA or Play. And if it happens on XDA, well, I am a moderator. Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 2:00
  • Not quite a duplicate, but I've highlighted some practical problems with "only modified distribution allowed" here: opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/5846/…
    – apsillers
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 3:48
  • Open source means free to copy and redistribute. You can certainly license your software as "you are free to use this source code for personal use" or "you are allowed to redistribute it but only if you modify more than the name and/or colors" but then it wouldn't be open source by the normal definition.
    – Brandin
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 4:46
  • 2
    'I've learned this is called a "crayon license," and that it's a good way to do things': where did you learn the second part of that? Crayon licences are not well thought of.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 8:39

1 Answer 1


If you're okay with people publishing your code as their own apps, then you the tool you want to use is a trademark, rather than a crayon copyright license. Lots of projects allow their code to be used freely, but the name, logos, and other branding cannot be. Trademark law also assists you for people who haven't used any of your code but are trying to make a very similar sounding and looking app.

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