I'm lost in a mass of licences - GPL, LGPL, Creative Commons, BSD, Apache, etc, and looking for a beginners guide.

When using a component under a popular licence like these, what are the restrictions for using them without paying in a commercial product?


  • do I have to redistribute the source?
  • do I have to credit them?
  • what if I modify the component? etc.

From what I can tell from http://www.codeproject.com/info/Licenses.aspx, only GPL and Creative Commons force you to redistribute source?

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    There are several differing Creative Commons licenses, varying in redistribution requirements and allowing commercial use, so referring to only one as the CC license is misleading. – David Thornley Feb 13 '12 at 14:31
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    Instead of asking "tell me everything about licensing" - tell us what you want to do? Do you want to create license for your own code or use someone else? Do you want to do or allow others for commercial usage or do you want to prohibit (or worried about prohibition applicable upon you?) – Dipan Mehta Feb 13 '12 at 15:03
  • Your best bet is to always do a cursory read of the license text itself first. Most open licenses are not terribly difficult to read, although the implications could require lawyers to interpret for you. – mikebabcock Feb 14 '12 at 18:02
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    For your (commercial) needs, MIT license fits better, and is the most popular in this kind of use. – Peter Krauss Dec 3 '15 at 10:02

A great resource for understanding open source licenses is the very comprehensive, interactive license differentiator, from Oxford Universities OSS Watch.

This asks questions based on the assumption that you want to find a license for your own software, but turn it around and you could also use it to determine which licenses are are suitable depending on the way you want to use other peoples software.

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  • Why hasn't this website been posted sooner? +1 – World Engineer Feb 13 '12 at 16:09
  • Great resource indeed! – Bernard Feb 13 '12 at 16:10
  • @WorldEngineer - I tend to mentioning it whenever I answer or comment on licensing questions, such as here and here, so I do try to get the word out. *8') – Mark Booth Feb 13 '12 at 16:32
  • @MarkBooth Care to blog about it as the canonical reference? – World Engineer Feb 13 '12 at 16:36
  • @WorldEngineer - Nah, my Stack Exchange answers are the only blogging I do. *8') – Mark Booth Feb 14 '12 at 10:54

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