Hot answers tagged

143

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 license. It doesn't even require attribution: Permission to use, copy, modify, and/or distribute this software for any purpose with or without fee is hereby ...


55

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 cannot retrospectively revoke that licence. If that licence permitted the recipient to make further copies, as free licences do, then you can get a copy from ...


47

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 employer, does not constitute distribution, so any conditions that GPL imposes on distribution do not apply: Is making and using multiple copies within one ...


41

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 Initiative Approved License”, but no trademark for “open source” by itself So from a legal perspective, anyone could use this term. But from an open source ...


41

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 it is a nonsensical thing to do. Because the license provides the freedom to use it for any purpose, a buyer can trivially express a desire to use your ...


35

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, whether personal or commercial. The request that changes to the program under its original name be made only by the author is made for the purpose of maintaining ...


34

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 Linux distributions where the distribution creators make a commitment to only including free software, for example the Debian main package repository.


29

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 use it in a way that contravenes the OSI's definition may put you at significant social disadvantage with anyone who enjoys the culturally consistent ...


26

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: Integrity of The Author's Source Code The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified form only if the license allows the distribution of "...


25

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 should look more like a BSD-style license, a software released under GPL v3+ would then be eligible to be distributed under that newer version and exercise the ...


24

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 permissions and contain language such as "Permission is hereby granted -- subject to the following conditions --" or "Redistribution and use -- are ...


23

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 - similar as you don't have the right to harvest a field, just because you can enter it from the street. If there is a license that specifies the conditions ...


21

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 version," then recipients could choose to apply (a possibly more permissive) GPLv4, whenever one comes into existence, and enjoy whatever permissive terms ...


19

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 use it. The exception is fair use: if you want to use the code in a way which is fair use, then that is permitted, whether or not there's a license. But if you ...


19

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. (2) and (3) are a very good indication of why an open source license (as defined by the OSI) cannot include such a requirement; the normal example here is the ...


18

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 problem. Anyone can attach put any license file into their project repo that they want to. The text of the license file may assert that that everything in their ...


17

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 difference between the BSD licenses and the MIT license is how they deal with the meaning of "software". MIT applies to the documentation associated with the software, ...


14

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 redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere. Being free to do these things means (...


14

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 their copyrighted work), could you prove to a court's satisfaction that you actually had permission to do that? The mismatch between licensing statements makes me ...


12

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 Engineering SE and the plain English explanation of the MIT license (link also provided in the linked answer). As indicated in the plain English explanation, you ...


12

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 it is a transitive dependency. You might want to keep this in mind if you plan to use this code in software which would be used by corporations. (This is on top ...


11

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 improve the software. Thus, “free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. It says there that the price of the software does not matter in any situation. As ...


11

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 reasonable notices about the open source components that you use. How to do this depends on the nature of your software. For a graphical application: Moving ...


9

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 been told that handing software to contractors might be different, so the employer should be careful). Even if you had rights, you don't have the source code. ...


9

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 original file; there's no license grant there either.) One could possibly try to read an implied license to "use" the code, in some manner such that "...


8

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 achieve the latter, you must have other contributors agree to a contributor licensing agreement (CLA) that allows you, specifically, to offer that contributor's ...


8

I must admit that the phrasing of the question is a bit unclear, at least to me. I am assuming you meant something in the spirit of "Can I use a license that isn't listed on choosealicense.com, and thus isn't recognized by GitHub, when I host my project there?" If my understanding of the question is correct, the answer would be a resounding yes. As the ...


8

It is unfortunately fairly common for companies to overstate the restrictions of the AGPL. But as the AGPL states, additional restrictions can be removed. This answer is primarily based on the GPLv3 CommunityServer license you linked. But aside from the GPLv3 vs AGPLv3 point, the analysis is identical for the AGPLv3-covered DocumentServer which contains the ...


8

Yes, both the MIT and GPL licenses are open source licenses (as defined by the Open Source Definition), so you can use them for any purpose, including commercially. If jszip and thus excel4node are using a GPL component, then you would have to comply with the terms of the GPL which basically means making your source code available if you are distributing ...


8

The comments hit on a lot of these points, but let me try to provide a more comprehensive response. Unless you have a strong reason to do so (and character count of your file header comments is not a strong reason), you should stick with one of the well-known software licenses. Your header just needs to mention the license that it is covered under and you ...


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