I have built a JavaScript library that I'd like to release for free within my user community. However I want to keep it under control, and not allow my users to pass it on to others without my permission.

As far as I can tell, a MIT or GPL license won't work for that scenario. What licensing options do I have?

Background: I've had some bad experience in the past where my solutions were used in situations other than the intended purpose, and this triggered maintenance and security issues. I am more careful this time.

  • 2
    How do you define your "user community"? – Philipp Mar 27 '13 at 21:40
  • It sounds like he wants to release source code to people, but explicitly not allow anyone the ability to redistribute. – kbyrd Mar 27 '13 at 21:52
  • @Philipp I have a list of people who have already used some of my solutions. I trust them to use the new code correctly, and correctly communicate the terms of use. – Christophe Mar 27 '13 at 22:00
  • @kbyrd right, or at least not redistribute without my consent – Christophe Mar 27 '13 at 22:00
  • I am not a lawyer but it sounds to me like what you actually want is License-free software ala Daniel J. Bernstein. – Mike Mar 27 '13 at 22:43

You could give each of your users a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use your library, but only for specific purposes which you specify. You could add a clause that they lose the right to use your software, should they violate these terms.

Such license agreements are common in the world of proprietary software (and please don't believe that you software isn't proprietary when you have such restrictive license conditions).

The fact that you don't actually take any money doesn't matter.

  • Thanks, would you have an example of such license to show me? Point taken about my approach being proprietary. – Christophe Mar 27 '13 at 22:24

For sharing code with our clients (for verification of statistical methods for example) we simply use non-disclosure agreements. Those come with a hefty fine attached, but are necessary to protect our work.

  • In my case it's JavaScript and might be used on public websites, so I don't think non-disclosure will work. – Christophe Mar 27 '13 at 22:21

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