Open Thoughts

Software Licensing

Posted by Cheng Soon Ong on February 6, 2013

One of the tricky decisions software authors have to make is "What license should I use for my software?" A recent article in PLoS Computational Biology discusses the different possible avenues open to authors. It gives a balanced view of software licensing, carefully describing the various dimensions authors of software should consider before coming to a decision.

It recommends the following guidelines:

  • For the widest possible distribution consider a permissive FOSS license such as the BSD/MIT, Apache, or ECL.
  • For assuring that derivatives also benefit FOSS, choose a copyleft FOSS license like the GPL, LGPL, or MPL.
  • To those on the fence, there are hybrid or multi-licensing which can achieve the benefits of both open source and proprietary software licenses.
  • For protecting the confidentiality of your code, there is the proprietary license.

Naturally being an open source venue, I strongly encourage people to consider the first two options. We also discuss the distinction between FOSS licences in our position paper from 2007.


Peter Reutemann (on February 26, 2013, 02:28:06)

Interesting article by Glyn Moody, "Why it's time to stop using open source licences", advocating the public domain approach --

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