I have found the following license:

Copyright (c) [year] [name]

Please read carefully the following terms and conditions and any accompanying documentation before you download and/or use this software and associated documentation files (the "Software").

The authors hereby grant you a non-exclusive, non-transferable, free of charge right to copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, and sublicense the Software for the sole purpose of performing non-commercial scientific research, non-commercial education, or non-commercial artistic projects.

Any other use, in particular any use for commercial purposes, is prohibited. This includes, without limitation, incorporation in a commercial product, use in a commercial service, or production of other artefacts for commercial purposes.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

You understand and agree that the authors are under no obligation to provide either maintenance services, update services, notices of latent defects, or corrections of defects with regard to the Software. The authors nevertheless reserve the right to update, modify, or discontinue the Software at any time.

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. You agree to cite the [someone] in [something].

After asking the author(s) it seems they also don't really know what license this is, and they've just pointed out it is actually somewhat common in it's usage.

Actually it seems to be used in this project, which seems to be a project by someone from the "Technische Universität Braunschweig, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft", a well known German university. Thus, I think they should know what they are doing there…

It seems to be popular in the scientific community in general, e.g. it is also used here, although the BSD 3-clause license is also in the repo and thus I am not sure about what applies. Or also in these projects by David Stutz.

Questions

So is there a name for that license? Is it somewhat "official"?

Apart from that, could one copy that license and just use it?

Or, I would try to ask now, if it is good to use. But as I know, this subjective view may not be good for Stackexchange, I'll just ask whether you see any obvious/inherit inconsistencies or other bad things that would make it totally unsuitable. (I don't want to promote it here, if it is bad.)

Note: Before confusion comes up: I know this is not an (OSI or FSF approved) open-source/free software license. It obviously restricts the "Fields of Endeavor" (point 6) and violates the "freedom 0". However, as it is used in open-source software, I guess this forum is correct.

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You are correct that the license appears to be a modified BSD 2-clause license, with non-commercial language added, and that the license is not Open Source. This is similar to the "Academic Public License" created (and, as far as I know, exclusively used) by Omnet.

Since this license has never been submitted to an approving body (since it would not be approved), I suspect that it has no "official name". My guess is that the license was created by a professor or student at a large European university, and has been copied ever since across European academia. I can find no mention of it in the OSI archives, but since they are not very searchable, I may have missed something.

This license would not conflict with the standard 3-clause BSD license. Neither BSD license prohibits adding extra licensing conditions and restrictions to the Work; this is why they are said to be "liberal" licenses. So I suspect that the project you're inquiring about was based on upstream BSD code, and is including the original BSD license because they are required to for that code.

Before you go about adopting any code under this license, it's worth considering why the OSI does not consider restrictions on fields of endeavor to be Open Source. "Non-commercial" is a slippery term, and invites upstream contributors to sue you over differences of opinion.

A license for public distribution should be clear as to what people can do with it. "Non-commercial" isn't clear. There's room for a lot of disagreement about what "commercial" means. Can I redistribute it on an ad-supported website? Can I use it to prototype a commercial activity, if I discard all the software before going commercial? How about if I play around with it, get an idea for a startup based on it, or what I've done? If I'm faculty at a University, can I use it in scientific research (since research is one of the things I'm paid for)? If I'm doing consulting on that research in my off-time?

For practical purposes, this wouldn't be all that bad if there was one copyright holder, and that person was reasonably prompt about clarification. However, the license encourages people to take the software and modify it, so that it's likely to reach someone with lots of copyright holders, any of which could take legal action, including (in the US) a DMCA takedown notice.

The license is less clear than simply non-commercial, since it allows only non-commercial scientific research, education, and artistic projects. Where are those lines drawn? If I use it to get to understand a concept, does that count as educational? Can it be used in a university classroom, since the students have paid money to be there? Exactly what is an artistic project? And, if I'm a professional artist (or have art as a sideline), and publish an artistic project, and gain some reputation or exposure from it, have I used it commercially?

For almost all purposes one would want to use the software for and show it in public, there's potential arguments about it being allowed, and with dozens of contributors it takes only one to think one stepped over the line to cause problems. I'd have to seriously consider whether using the software was worth the risk, and software that I had a solid license for (whether open source or paid for) would seem a much safer course.

So, while is isn't actually inconsistent (it's not clear enough for that), there are good reasons to shy away from using software with such a license.

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