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158 votes
Accepted

What are the essential differences between the BSD and MIT licences?

When talking about BSD license, you have to be aware that there is not one, but actually four different BSD licenses. The most basic is the zero-clause BSD license which is basically a public domain ...
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55 votes
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Can I ignore an open source license if I checkout a version that was released prior to the code having any license?

Generally speaking, a licence grant is not revocable once it has been relied on. Once an author has published a piece of code under a licence, and someone has taken a copy on that basis, the author ...
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  • 37.8k
47 votes
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Can an NDA block GPL freedom number 4?

The FSF believes, in the jurisdictions they have considered, that the transfer of GPL-licensed software by an employer to an employee, for the fulfillment of their responsibilities as an agent of the ...
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41 votes

Is the term 'open source' a trademark?

International trademarks can be searched online in the WIPO Global Brand Database. “open source” is trademarked in some areas, none relevant for software OSI holds a US trademark for “Open Source ...
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  • 33.2k
41 votes

Is my software still "free" if I charge for its commercial use and not for non-commercial use?

You may charge money for distributing free (as-in-freedom) software. However, if your license is a true FSF-approved free license, then charging based on purpose isn't so much a license violation as ...
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35 votes

Is the TeX typesetting system free and open source?

TeX was created before Open Source was formally defined. Its use is not restricted; it is stated explicitly in Knuth's writings that its methods and algorithms may be used freely for any purpose, ...
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35 votes
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Which licenses give me a guarantee that a software I'm installing is completely open-source, free of closed-source dependencies or components?

No Open Source license does that. Even the GNU GPL license allows one program to interact with another non-free program via pipes, sockets, streams etc. While the licenses can't do this, there are ...
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34 votes

Can I disregard GPL just because I use autoconf?

The exception says that “you may include it”, where it is the build scripts generated by autoconf. This is not a broad GPL exception that would apply to any GPL-licensed software. The autotools ...
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29 votes

Is the term 'open source' a trademark?

The OSI failed to secure a trademark on "open source" in 1999, and the term remains not trademarked. You may use "open source" to mean virtually anything you want, without legal ramifications, but to ...
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26 votes
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Is the TeX typesetting system free and open source?

Yes, it is open source, at least according to the Open Source Definition, the closest thing the community has to an agreed definition of open source. The clause that allows this is Clause 4: ...
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25 votes
Accepted

Is it possible that a future GPL version removes copyleft?

The crucial statement there is "terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation". So yes, if the FSF should decide that a future version of the GPL ...
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  • 8,270
24 votes

Trying to understand an old custom license

This is not a license, as it grants no rights. By default all works are copyrighted and their allowed use is limited unless the rights owner gives you further permissions. Licenses grant further ...
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  • 428
23 votes

Can I ignore an open source license if I checkout a version that was released prior to the code having any license?

With licenses it is actually quite simple: No license means no rights to you to even use the code for whatever purpose. Code being available somewhere for download doesn't imply any right to use it - ...
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21 votes

What are the essential differences between the BSD and MIT licences?

A couple of things were not mentioned in the accepted answer: documentation associated with the software community adoption BSD-2-Clause Plus Patent aka "BSD+Patent" Documentation Another ...
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21 votes

Is it possible that a future GPL version removes copyleft?

If code is licensed strictly under a specific version of the GNU GPL, future versions have no effect for that specifically-licensed code. For code that is licensed under "version 3 or any later ...
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  • 30.9k
20 votes

Can I ignore an open source license if I checkout a version that was released prior to the code having any license?

You have a misconception here. You're thinking that licenses take away your right to use a piece of code. In fact, licenses give you the right to use a piece of code. If there's no license, you can't ...
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  • 1,005
19 votes
Accepted

Trying to understand an old custom license

For (1), the only answer is "nobody knows" (apart from possibly the person who wrote the license). Given that, I would therefore be conservative and assume that it is a mandatory requirement....
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18 votes

Which licenses give me a guarantee that a software I'm installing is completely open-source, free of closed-source dependencies or components?

Which licenses give me a guarantee that a software I'm installing is completely open-source, free of closed-source dependencies or components? Unfortunately, a license cannot do that. Here's the ...
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  • 421
17 votes

Is requiring a link to my site allowed for a FOSS license?

The idea to force users of the software to advertise the original author is not new. It was first seen in the 4-clause BSD License. There was a lot of criticism about the advertising clause, and it ...
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14 votes

Is my software still "free" if I charge for its commercial use and not for non-commercial use?

The main problem you will be having is with the freedom to redistribute copies (freedom 2 and 3). The GNU project codifies this freedom in GPL clarifying it's exact meaning: You are free to ...
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  • 739
14 votes

Does a copyright notice in a file header affect the licensing?

A "license" simply means legal permission to do something from a rightsholder. The relevant question is: if the rightsholder sued you for exercising some right (e.g., copying or modifying ...
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  • 30.9k
13 votes
Accepted

Should I use my own license in a fork of another GitHub repository, which I've revamped completely?

The MIT license is very permissive; you are allowed to release your own work under a different license if it was based on something released under the MIT license. See also this answer on Software ...
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  • 341
13 votes
Accepted

Is requiring a link to my site allowed for a FOSS license?

Let's break down this question in parts and start with the FOSS licenses common ground. The common things about FOSS licenses are that one is required to keep the copyright notices of previous ...
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  • 8,270
12 votes

Trying to understand an old custom license

In a corporate environment I would advise my colleagues not to use this code for the reason that it is an unconventional license and the legal interpretation is not clear. This would even be in case ...
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11 votes
Accepted

Is my software still "free" if I charge for its commercial use and not for non-commercial use?

The GNU Philosophy says: “Free software” means software that respects users' freedom and community. Roughly, it means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and ...
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  • 330
11 votes

LGPL obligations implementation in beta versions

Compliance stuff isn't a nice-to-have feature. The LGPL provides no exceptions for beta releases. However, the LGPL is technology-neutral and does not directly require you to implement a GUI. You must ...
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  • 33.2k
9 votes

Can an NDA block GPL freedom number 4?

If you receive an open source application from your employer, it hasn't been distributed to you, but to your employer, so you haven't received any rights through that distribution. (However, I have ...
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  • 1,057
9 votes

Trying to understand an old custom license

As jpa notes, there is no license here. The notice you've quoted grants no right to redistribute the code, with or without modification. (And yes, I checked the full comment at the top of the ...
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8 votes
Accepted

License to disallow distribution in closed source software, but allow exceptions made by owner?

The practice of selling exceptions to the GPL is perfectly commonplace, but you must either be the sole copyright holder, or else have prior permission from all other copyright holders. In order to ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Why am I being asked for a license key to use an open source product?

The product seems to comprise two elements: the API Gateway, and the Dashboard/Portal, which is a web-based management interface for your API Gateways. According to their front page: The Tyk Open ...
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