Which reasoning would you follow to choose one license over another? Which literature would you expect someone to read, if he wants to make a meaningful decision about licensing?

I specifically don't go too much into detail about my current project, because I am looking to learn how to make this decision correctly without getting a degree in law first.


1 Answer 1


To get started, you really need to decide what kind of permissions you want to give. If you want your project very open with a lax license, go with a BSD or MIT style license. The only difference between those two is that the BSD requires people who distribute your software to keep your name with it, the MIT doesn't. If you want copyleft (requiring modified versions to have the same license), go with the GPL (or the LGPL if you are okay with your software being bundled). These licenses are often called viral licenses because they require forks of your program to be under that same license. They are also the #1 and #3 most popular licenses if I recall correctly. If you want the same kind of protections as the GPL minus the copyleft, look at the Apache License, which is the #2 most popular license and is also used for it's sections regarding patents. Documentation should also be openly licensed, try the GFDL or a Creative Commons license for it.

I don't really know how to directly answer this question. I have provided as much info as I can on licensing, but I'm not sure exactly what you want.

Finally, for info on how to implement your license, please look at this answer.

I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice. Blah blah blah, etc.

  • This answer contains a worth of information but doesn't answer the question. The question is about literature and decision factors not about licenses. That's why I can't mark your response as correct answer.
    – erikbstack
    Apr 15, 2013 at 18:25
  • 1
    @erikb - I have no idea what exactly you are looking for, but I have revised my answer slightly. Also, if you think your question should be reopened, flag it for mod attention and explain why.
    – Nathan2055
    Apr 25, 2013 at 15:37
  • Well, think about you write a scientific paper on that topic. What you need first are sources to quote and build your ideas upon. That's what I am looking for: quotable sources. Anyway, thanks for the support!
    – erikbstack
    Apr 29, 2013 at 11:27

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