Choosing an open source license

| | August 6, 2015

I’m looking into open-sourcing a code base I’m working on and have been researching the various more popular licenses. However, none of them seem to really fit exactly how I want to license the code.

Generally speaking I’m good with people using it as they see fit, but,

  1. If someone makes a derivative work I’d appreciate it if the original work (mine) was acknowledged. I’m not talking parties in the streets or anything, just a little (based on code by Gordon) disclaimer in there somewhere
  2. You are forbidden from using my code in any product that includes code that you’ve patented or licensed under a patent. Software patents are evil! :)

The two big ones (GPL and BSD) don’t seem to really cover those terms very well. GPL is far too restrictive in terms of usage (and on a personal note I’m not exactly keen on Stallman). However, the BSD license is too liberal and doesn’t do anything to prevent code being used alongside patented code, etc.

Ideally I think I need something like the BSD license, but with extra terms attached to cover the cases I’ve outlined. If there is such a license out there already, what is it? If not, is there a pre-existing license that you’d recommend?

The final option of course is create my own license. However, would that then limit my ability to distribute via sourceforge/github/etc? I understand they expect you to use an existing license.

2 Responses to “Choosing an open source license”

  1. It looks like the one you’re looking for is Apache 2. It requires a copyright notice in code and limits your liability.
    As for the patents: I don’t know cases where patents are granted to literal code. It’s usually more for algorithms or ideas, almost never for concrete implementations.
    While I completely agree with you that software patents are doing more to hinder innovation then to protect inventors, I don’t see how you would make such a restriction. If you do find a way – please post it.

  2. Why not plump for GPL and add some text that they can obtain dispensation for any limitations in the usage by contacting you for authority?

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