In HOWTO: Pick an open source license (part one), Ed Burnette gives us a simple step-by-step approach for choosing an open source license. It covers such concerns as: control over usage, use in closed-source environments, reciprocal code contributions, and monetary concerns.

Here is a resume of what you can find in the article:

  • Do you want to relinquish any control over how your code is used and distributed?
    • NO: put it in public domain and you’re done, don’t copyright it, and don’t license it “public domain” is is not a good choice because in many jurisdictions you can’t give up your copyright. Use a liberal license like MIT/BSD instead.
    • YES: Copyright it, and ask: Do you want to allow people to use your code in non open-source programs?
    • NO: release it under the GPL.
    • YES: If somebody uses your code in their program and sells their program for money, do you want some of that money?
      • YES: Dual-license (Examples: MySQL, JBoss) or use a closed-source license.
      • NO: Use a “commercial-friendly” license, and ask: If somebody uses your code and improves it (fixes bugs or adds features) do you want to make them give you the improvements back so you can use them too?
      • YES: Use a reciprocal license (Examples: Eclipse (EPL), Solaris (CDDL), Firefox (MPL)).
      • NO: Use a non-reciprocal license (Example: FreeBSD (BSD)).

Update: HOWTO: Pick an open source license (part two) is now available.


comments powered by Disqus