What Every Open Source Software User Needs to Know About Open Source Licenses

Not all free and open source (OS) software licenses have been created to achieve the same goals, and failure to understand the differences can have dire consequences. Some OS licenses are business-friendly in that they allow the code to be combined with downstream proprietary applications without imposing open source licensing requirements on those downstream applications. Others do not allow such combinations in any circumstances (at least if the developer wishes the products to remain proprietary), and some licenses fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Here is the minimum knowledge your company and development team should have regarding OS license types before incorporating OS code into software you develop.

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