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
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 21:40
  • It sounds like he wants to release source code to people, but explicitly not allow anyone the ability to redistribute.
    – kbyrd
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 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
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 22:00
  • @kbyrd right, or at least not redistribute without my consent
    – Christophe
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 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
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


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
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 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
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 22:21

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