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157 votes
2 answers
70k 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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  • 1,673
117 votes
5 answers
14k 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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  • 8,705
18 votes
2 answers
2k views

What are the arguments for considering dynamic links to constitute derivative works?

The status of programs which are dynamically linked with Copyleft licensed binaries (such as a .dll) is contentious. I have created two questions for each side of the debate. The other can be found ...
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18 votes
2 answers
3k views

So the GPL doesn't restrict the creator of the software in any way?

In another thread I started (Red Hat buys Ansible), I am trying to figure out the economic value of a company transaction with respect to GPL'ed software. A few of the answers suggest that the owners ...
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  • 429
26 votes
4 answers
2k views

What are the arguments for considering dynamic links not to constitute derivative works?

The status of programs which are dynamically linked with Copyleft licensed binaries (such as a .dll) is contentious. I have created two questions for each side of the debate. The other can be found ...
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50 votes
3 answers
13k 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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  • 8,750
14 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is the output of an open source program licensed the same?

According to my knowledge, open source software is free to use and distribute. If modified it should be distributed under the same license. But what about only using output of the programme? Eg. ...
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  • 243
79 votes
2 answers
15k 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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  • 5,038
126 votes
6 answers
15k views

How can free and open source projects be monetized?

Many open source projects I see involve having dedicated servers, as well as the expensive infrastructure that powers it. Many employ developers to work on the software full or part time. What are ...
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  • 1,759
16 votes
2 answers
5k views

What are software dependencies, and what are the implications of FLOSS dependencies for other projects?

How could I best explain software dependencies to a non-software, non-tech person? What are software dependencies, such as package dependencies or linking dependencies? And why does it matter to ...
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27 votes
4 answers
4k 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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  • 8,533
87 votes
5 answers
11k 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?...
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22 votes
2 answers
1k views

Theseus' Paradox applied to code copyright

Assuming a copyright license (I'll reference Apache 2.0, but that's an example only) that allows derivations, at what point are those derivations so extensive that the Apache license no longer applies?...
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  • 323
58 votes
3 answers
7k views

Should I include license text in a single file or all source files?

Many licenses, such as Apache 2.0, have both a long and a short form. Typically, the long form is included in the repository as a single LICENSE file, and the short form is used in the actual source ...
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  • 6,705
20 votes
1 answer
584 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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  • 10.8k
72 votes
4 answers
15k views

How does GitHub's "forking right" cope with an "All rights reserved" project?

The GitHub FAQ states (emphasis mine): You're under no obligation to choose a license. It's your right not to include one with your code or project, but please be aware of the implications. ...
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  • 820
46 votes
4 answers
21k views

Is it legal to use GPL code in a proprietary, closed-source program by putting it in a separate, standalone program?

As we all know, the GNU General Public License (GPL) is a "copyleft" source license: which means it is designed not merely to make the code to which it is initially applied free and preserve its ...
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22 votes
1 answer
4k views

Are all docker images free (i.e. GPL)?

Looking at the GPLv2 FAQ. I'd like to incorporate GPL-covered software in my proprietary system. Can I do this?. Since, any typical Linux distribution base image contains a variety of GPL-licensed ...
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  • 323
20 votes
2 answers
5k views

Combining code written under different licenses (Eiffel Forum License, MIT and Apache), what are my options?

So I'm new to all this licensing jazz, and I've just started work on a project I'd like to one day publish as open source. I've found a couple of projects so far that have code to accomplish stuff ...
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  • 303
31 votes
3 answers
2k 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 ...
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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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  • 5,310
15 votes
2 answers
397 views

Must contributor agreements be physically signed?

I've been developing an API internally with a few friends, and hope to expand it and make it open to the broader public. I've highlighted a lot of background in this question, but to recap, it's a ...
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  • 6,239
102 votes
5 answers
52k views

Can I use GPL libraries in a closed source project if only the output is distributed?

If I create a closed source application which uses some GPL licensed libraries but don't actually distribute the software, only its output, can I keep the software closed sourced? Specifically, I am ...
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  • 1,125
37 votes
7 answers
14k views

Can I take BSD licensed code and distribute it under GPL?

Or in more general terms: Can I take code which is licensed under a permissive open source license (like the BSD license) and distribute it under a copyleft free software license (like the GPL)? ...
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  • 473
32 votes
3 answers
18k 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.
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44 votes
3 answers
6k views

Should I include a copyright line in every file?

This is similar to my other question, but specifically about Copyright rather than Licensing. Typically, each source file contains a line of the form Copyright 2010-2015, Me Is this strictly ...
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  • 6,705
43 votes
5 answers
8k 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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  • 662
28 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 ...
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32 votes
2 answers
16k 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 ...
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

As owner of GPL library, can I break the licensing terms?

As far as I understand, choosing GPL licence for library does not permits use of it in proprietary programs as opposed to LGPL. So releasing my library (or code classes), I'm forcing people to use ...
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  • 1,031
22 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is the difference between a CLA and a CTA?

I've seen that some projects require a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) and some require a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA). Some examples of places using a CLA: Django Google jQuery Some ...
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19 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the difference between GPL + Classpath exception vs LGPL

Java and a few java libraries provide a "classpath" exception. To me, this seems similar to the LGPL's linking exceptions. What is the difference between the GPL with a classpath exception and the ...
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63 votes
3 answers
5k views

How can I determine if two open source licenses are compatible with each other?

Given two open source projects, each with different licenses, are there metrics or resources I can use to determine if it is legitimate to copy code from one of the projects to the other?
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  • 1,059
28 votes
4 answers
14k views

What's the difference between permissive and copyleft licenses?

I've heard both terms thrown around, but I'm a bit unclear as to how the licenses differ. How is copyleft different to a permissive license? Is copyleft just the standard for open source licenses?
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21 votes
4 answers
2k views

What are the implications of the Google vs. Oracle case on the state of public APIs?

There is a case between Google and Oracle over the use of Java and it's standard library on the Google Android operating system. From this article: To recap: Oracle accused Google of copying some of ...
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  • 313
38 votes
6 answers
1k views

How do I attract new programmers?

I am working on a project, currently by myself. It's a side project, I'm not expecting to make money on it. It's posted on GitHub, and I'm going to be building a project page for it. Once it's built, ...
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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 ...
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16 votes
1 answer
2k views

Is there any way to assert that a source code correspond to a compiled code?

When using a program that was compiled from open source code by a 3rd party and not by yourself directly, how is it possible to check that the binary program is well built against an exact source code ...
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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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  • 6,239
32 votes
2 answers
6k views

Do you violate the GPL if you provide source code that cannot be compiled?

In a recent question on programmers.SE†, it was asked whether a project is open source if it provides some source code but doesn't make it clear how to actually compile it. Consensus is that it'...
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8 votes
1 answer
4k views

Apache 2.0 license - NOTICE, CHANGELOG

I have a question about the NOTICE and CHANGELOG files in Apache 2.0 license. Here is the situation: I based my work on an Apache 2.0 licensed project. I did some minor changes (compared to the ...
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17 votes
1 answer
5k 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? ...
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13 votes
2 answers
1k views

Does "the GPL doesn't cover the output of a program" also apply if the output is source code?

As it is well known (see for example this question or this one), the GPL licenses do not cover the output of a GPL-licensed program. So, I could for example generate some pictures with a GPL-licensed ...
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  • 233
8 votes
1 answer
542 views

Possibility of non-commercial ‘open-source’ and attribution based licence

I am currently planning to launch an alpha version of the software as a representative of an unregistered company. We (currently I'm the only person on the team) do not have any patents and are not ...
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17 votes
4 answers
562 views

Does a host application's license apply to plug-ins written for it?

This was prompted by another question which reminded of a past experience. Consider the following: An open-source project supports a plug-in architecture The project is released under a copyleft ...
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  • 6,705
39 votes
8 answers
53k views

Can GPL licenced software be used in corporate environments?

If software is licenced under a GPL license, can it be used without restriction in a corporate/commercial environment? The software that I am refering to is QGIS which provides this description: ...
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  • 601
32 votes
7 answers
4k views

How is selling FLOSS packages for monetary compensation a viable strategy?

This question is about selling FLOSS and its source-code. According to Selling Free Software and commercial purpose, Free Software can be distributed with or without charge. My friend asked me two ...
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  • 1,992
50 votes
4 answers
18k views

Someone open-sourced an un-open-source project

Someone (Person_A) is sharing an open source project (Project_A) on GitHub. The Project_A is a decompiled version of another project (Project_B). But the original Project_B is not open source, and ...
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  • 629
36 votes
2 answers
1k views

Can I change the caps to lowercase in licenses?

The well-known MIT (or "X11/MIT" license reads): Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "...
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20 votes
2 answers
11k views

Does GPLv3 require attribution?

I believe that GNU GPLv3 does not require attribution, but can be supplemented to do so, as stated in the additional terms (7. b) of the terms and conditions. However, it also states, under the ...
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