Questions tagged [licensing]

Licensing refers to applying a license to an area of software. Only use this tag if your question concerns the application of a license to an area of interest. If your question concerns a specific license, use the tag that corresponds to your license. For more general questions, use this tag.

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166 votes
2 answers
79k views

What can I assume if a publicly published project has no license?

There is some code on GitHub that I would like to use. The repository has no public declaration of license that I can find. But this particular project has over 200 forks and is a pretty active ...
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125 votes
5 answers
17k views

How can a "crayon" license be a problem?

Bruce Perens (co-founder of OSI) has coined the term "crayon license": I've been calling these "crayon licenses", taking a line from an old Monty Python sketch about a dog license ...
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56 votes
4 answers
15k views

Can I license my project with an open-source license but disallow commercial use?

I'd like to make my project open-source. Is there a free/open-source license that lets me do that, but disallows anyone receiving my project to use it for commercial purposes or monetary gain? In a ...
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86 votes
2 answers
16k views

Why is CC BY-SA discouraged for code?

Everybody knows that you shouldn't use a CC BY-SA license on your code. Even the Creative Commons folk recommend against it. What I don't know or understand is why. I can't seem to find any ...
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28 votes
4 answers
5k views

Are licenses irrevocable by default?

I've noticed that some FOSS licenses explicitly mention that they are irrevocable (as long as their conditions are met) and others are silent on this point. Does this matter? Are the licenses that don'...
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89 votes
5 answers
12k views

How can a project be relicensed?

I've found out that the license I picked for my project does not quite do what I wanted it do (bad research). Now I want to change the license. Is it as simple as changing the LICENSE.txt in the root?...
20 votes
1 answer
640 views

What are the licensing terms of the text of the GPL?

The text of the GPLv3 starts with the following disclaimer: Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed. What does this ...
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37 votes
2 answers
17k views

MIT license and "All rights reserved."?

I recently saw something like this: Copyright (c) Some Corporation All rights reserved. MIT License ... And then the MIT license follows. Now, from what I know the MIT license is one of the most ...
31 votes
3 answers
3k views

Do I really need to include a licence file for common licences like GPL or MIT?

The GPL3, for example, says: Conveying Verbatim Copies. You may convey verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and ...
27 votes
3 answers
5k views

Do I have to offer the source of an AGPL (v3.0) licensed Web app even if I didn’t modify it?

The point of using the GNU Affero General Public License (Version 3) is that it allows "users who interact with the licensed software over a network to receive the source for that program" (FSF). ...
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43 votes
5 answers
9k views

Can there be a copyright on negative code?

This is a hypothetical question, but I am curious. Feel free to ignore it, when it seems too theoretical for you. Some people may know the situation that you implement a feature and in the end you ...
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33 votes
3 answers
20k views

If I'm using a GPL 3 library in my project, can I license my project under MIT license?

If I'm using a library that is licensed under GPL v3 in my project, can I license my project under the MIT license? I tried to read the GPL v3 text but I cannot understand it without your assistance.
29 votes
3 answers
4k views

When folks send me pull-requests on GitHub, what are their copyright/licensing terms by default?

Say I'm maintaining a GPLv3 project on GitHub with a LICENSE file, code headers and all. Now, a few folks made some code enhancements and sent me a pull-request. Does that automatically mean that they ...
40 votes
3 answers
1k views

Can I "Override" a licensing policy?

On many sites, especially Stack Overflow, I can't help but notice such amazing code snippets. However, they come with a "catch" designed by the author. With user contributions being licensed with the ...
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32 votes
2 answers
3k views

Copyright and Contributing to an Open Source Project

I'm a little confused by copyright notices on open source projects. Let's say that a particular project is covered by a very permissive license, such as MIT or BSD. A copyright notice appears from ...
18 votes
1 answer
6k views

Why shouldn't Creative Commons licenses be used for software? [duplicate]

Suppose I was finishing up an open source software. I needed to license it under an open source license. My question: Why would I not want to license my software under a Creative Commons license? ...
16 votes
1 answer
3k views

If I translate/port a repository from one programming language to another, do I need to use the license file (Github) from that original project?

If I translate/port a repository from one programming language to another, do I need to use the license file (Github) from that original project? Or can I use my own license file. I intend to use the ...
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why do almost all open source licenses require attribution?

Almost all popular open source licenses require derivative works to give attribution to the original author(s). The only exceptions I'm aware of are the nearly-public-domains ones (CC0, WTFPL, ...
4 votes
1 answer
520 views

What is defined as trivial code when licensing a project

I am creating a project I am thinking about open sourcing but I am concerned about the licensing issue of what exactly is trivial code. I am concerned because if I did not know how to do something I ...
0 votes
1 answer
198 views

Extend GPL to be informed in case of derivative work

I understand that any work that is based on work licensed under GPL must also be released under GPL. However, it does not require contacting original authors about the fact that a derivative work has ...
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22 votes
1 answer
6k views

SSPL and the Open Source Definition

MongoDB has decided to change the licensing of MongoDB Community Server, seemingly to prevent businesses from monetizing on their product without giving anything back: https://www.mongodb.com/press/...
20 votes
2 answers
5k views

Is my code FLOSS just because it is published it on GitHub?

Does publishing my code on GitHub make it FLOSS automatically? Is there some license automatically assigned to it? Is it "technically or say literally, open source"?
user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

AGPL v3 licensing: How does external party determine if modifications were made?

When using an AGPL v3 licensed software within a public-facing web application hosted on a private server, you are obligated (section 13) to share your code if you modify the original AGPL code. Many ...
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6 votes
1 answer
763 views

I am using a MIT licensed module in a closed source project. What are my obligations?

I am using diverse module under the MIT license in my project. The project consist of a webserver, which will be closed source, commercial, and will not be distributed. As I understand the MIT ...
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3 votes
1 answer
237 views

As the owner of a GPLv3 project, what type of restrictions will be placed on me if I accept contributions?

For example, will accepting someone's copyrighted contribution prohibit me from changing the license, accepting donations towards the project, or anything else?
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46 votes
3 answers
71k views

Open-source license to prevent commercial use? [duplicate]

I could really use some help picking the right license for my project. The project is already released on github under the GPLv3 license but I have been made aware that this prevents uses that I want ...
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22 votes
1 answer
40k views

Can I use a Apache v2 licensed driver for a commercial project without revealing sources of the project?

I am building a project that will be commercialised. One of the library I use is licensed under Apache v2. To my understanding, if I modify the library, I need to give the source of the library with ...
  • 385
21 votes
5 answers
4k views

How can I forbid shady resale practices?

From time to time, I come across a website that is clearly selling my MIT-licensed, FOSS project verbatim to unsuspecting buyers under an alternative name. Of course, they do not acknowledge the fact ...
  • 847
19 votes
3 answers
10k views

AGPLv3 source redistribution: when does it apply to my code for a server-side Java app using an AGPL-licensed library?

I have written a Java program designed to run server-side with a plain HTML web interface: My app is based based on Apache Tomcat and I wrote a bunch of servlets. I am reusing and I have integrated ...
16 votes
1 answer
2k views

How do I license an open source application that uses closed source libraries?

I'm not sure if this is the right place for this question since the software I'm developing isn't completely open source, but here goes. Long story short (and for context), I'm a member of a not-for-...
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11 votes
1 answer
798 views

Am I forced to release my project under GPL, even though no GPL source is included?

Recently I ran into a GPL license related problem and I heard many people claiming many different things. I made this post to get this cleared up for myself. Situation There is a program which is ...
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

According to the GPL FAQ use within a company or organization is not considered distribution. What is the legal definition of a company/organization?

https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#InternalDistribution : Is making and using multiple copies within one organization or company “distribution”? No, in that case the organization is just ...
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10 votes
1 answer
2k views

Do Contributors Own Copyright After Sending Contributions?

I have a GitHub repository which its license is GPL. Although of this, in the "about" window of my program, I mentioned that I own the copyright (like this: © My name, 2017). And I added the GPL text ...
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9 votes
2 answers
3k views

How can I use an MIT license for code but protect the copyright of photos in my repository?

My project is a fork of a project that comes with the MIT license and nobody wants to change the license that applies to the software. However, some of the content that is also stored on GitHub is not ...
8 votes
2 answers
4k views

If I use a public API endpoint that has its source code licensed under AGPL in my app, do I need to disclose my source?

If there's a public API server that has it's source code licensed with AGPL, and if I make an app that uses these public endpoints in some part of it, (entire application doesn't necessarily depend on ...
8 votes
1 answer
3k views

Java and AGPL 3: how far does license extend into web app?

I want to use a java library released by someone else having an AGPL3 license. I'm not modifying their library, but I do link to it using import com.theirlibrary.methodABC; in one of my java classes ...
  • 445
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Can I use/distribute LGPL command line software in mine that isn't LGPL?

I've developed a little software that use FFmpeg in command line mode. To further clarify: My software launch several times ffmpeg.exe that is stored inside the same folder as my .exe. User never ...
  • 123
7 votes
3 answers
1k views

Implications of using GPL licenced code only during testing

Let's say I'm working on a software library in which certain unit tests rely on GPL licensed code but the code that a user of this library would install on their system does not interact with GPL ...
  • 253
6 votes
1 answer
2k views

Can I legally use code I found on a forum?

I want to write an R package and release on CRAN. But I have concerns about legal issues: licensing and authorship/ownership. Code of some functions in the package will be derived from or based on ...
  • 225
5 votes
1 answer
156 views

How could I copyleft a document that contains a substantial amount of both code and prose?

I am writing a document in LaTeX that contains large sections of Python code and output. Typically, I like to license my writing under CC BY-SA 4.0 and my code under GPLv3. I have already placed a CC ...
5 votes
2 answers
294 views

Under what conditions can someone dual licence existing works?

When software is diffused under an open-source licence I imagine that a project becomes the "intellectual property" of the community. However, I'm not clear about this answer in that an author agrees ...
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5 votes
1 answer
384 views

When does a dependency imply a derivative work?

I'm building a program which gets certain info off the net, makes calculations, then sends the info to the net again. I don't program the 'taking off the net' and 'sending to the net' parts though; ...
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4 votes
1 answer
521 views

Can proprietary-licensed software execute shell commands that are probably GPL licensed?

Can proprietary-licensed software (that will be distributed, alongside with the hardware) use GPL software (distributed from package manager)?. It's basically scientific-measurement-device, that ...
  • 187
4 votes
2 answers
741 views

Can I put a copyright on my website and make the code private when the source code is partially copied from an open source GNU GPL V3 project

I've rewritten my personal website using this https://github.com/bk2dcradle/researcher . I've made some significant changes. Like I did on my previously (built from scratch) website, I'd like to add ...
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2 votes
2 answers
120 views

Are there any established licenses that encourage users of my projects to give back?

For my open-source projects, I have to rely on the users to send back bug reports, tell me which features they need, etc. I’d love to encourage all users to make a good-faith effort to do this via the ...
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37 votes
3 answers
28k views

What's the difference between Copyright and Licensing?

Preamble There are two other questions, specifically related to Licensing and Copyright. In reviewing the answers and comments, I get the feeling that people generally consider the two to be the ...
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30 votes
2 answers
17k views

What exactly is Tivoization and why didn't Linus Torvalds like it in GPLv3?

I still don't understand what Tivoization is and why Linus Torvalds did not like it. Can you explain to me the big idea of Tivoization?
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27 votes
4 answers
3k views

License for code snippets?

I share small snippets of code with friends, and would like to post them online for others to use. I'm not sure of the best license? I was thinking MIT, but it includes this clause: The above ...
  • 2,869
26 votes
4 answers
914 views

What happens if I share code online without any licence declaration?

What will the licence of the code be? If this is jurisdiction / country based what is relevant in this case? The place of origin of the poster, the host where the code lives, or the one who tries to ...
  • 735
26 votes
3 answers
5k views

Can you withdraw the license on an open source project so that even those who already have it can no longer use it?

I have just read this post in the KDE-mailinglist and then i wonder (generally): If someone has released his software under the terms of (for example) GPL or LGPL or something similar, can he ...
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