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. Feb 13, 2012 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?) Feb 13, 2012 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. Feb 14, 2012 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. Dec 3, 2015 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


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.

  • Why hasn't this website been posted sooner? +1
    – user28988
    Feb 13, 2012 at 16:09
  • Great resource indeed!
    – Bernard
    Feb 13, 2012 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, 2012 at 16:32
  • @MarkBooth Care to blog about it as the canonical reference?
    – user28988
    Feb 13, 2012 at 16:36
  • @WorldEngineer - Nah, my Stack Exchange answers are the only blogging I do. *8')
    – Mark Booth
    Feb 14, 2012 at 10:54

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