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Licensing 101 for Open Source Projects--Pick a License

Jul 16, 2009, 20:34 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ossi Niiranen)

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"What’s the Problem?
When you write your code from scratch, you get the added benefit of being the so-called “owner” of the code. In legalese, it means that you own the copyright over the code, and can restrict others from using it, or to grant them limited rights (via licensing). More importantly, you are free to decide yourself on what terms you want to license the code, e.g., whether to for example license your code for a fee (i.e., via proprietary licensing) or under an open source license (where a fee is sometimes possible, but not necessarily always a viable business model given the characteristics of open source licenses).

"The flip-side of the above is that when you are the one receiving code, you do not usually get full rights to do what you want with the code. You are limited by the license terms covering the code in question. It makes no difference in theory whether the license is open source or not, as open source licenses are based on exactly the same legal principles as proprietary licenses. Thus, when you incorporate third party open source code into your project’s codebase, you need to always comply with the license terms for the code in question. "

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