First off, is there any difference between a license and a EULA?

Second, can a developer write his own license or is there some special legal crap you have to do.

Finally is there some kind of lawyer that specializes in writing licenses for software? What kind of legal professional would you hire to do something like this?


While both are licenses, a EULA is a type of license typically given to owners of compiled programs while a 'license' without additions usually refers to the license that governs usage of the source-code which is otherwise protected by copyright law.

If you are selling / giving downloadable executables it is likely you need a EULA. If you are selling / giving source-code, you need a software license that determines what can be done with the code.

I have no specific experience with EULAs but I do have considerable experience with source-code licensing. I assume you are familiar with open-source licenses - if those are not what you need (for example, commercial works), you will need a custom license.

The most important points to cover in a license concerns the rights to modify, redistribute or resell the code. Others include protection of specific copyrights, trade-secrets, patents and similar IP. I wrote a blog post a while ago about commercial software licenses which should be of use to you.


EULA stands for End User Licence Agreement, so no, there's not really any difference. Arguably "licence" could cover other sorts of licence (some sort of redistributor licence, for instance), but that's splitting hairs - for most practical purposes, the terms are interchangeable.

A developer can indeed write their own licence (you don't need to be a lawyer or anything for it to be a valid licence), but copyright and contract law can be hairy, and, unless you know what you're doing, you're far better getting a lawyer to at least check it over. If you don't, you risk inadvertently leaving yourself open to undesirable liabilities, or having terms that turn out to be unenforceable. You do not want to be in this situation if you're hoping to make money off the software. Rather than getting a licence drawn up from scratch (which is pricey), you should be able to use an off the shelf licence. A wide choice of open source ones are readily available if you go down that route, and even boilerplate commercial licences are available, though a fee might be charged for their use. A good lawyer should have or be able to recommend a stock licence to use as a starting point.

Finally, there are probably specialist software licencing lawyers, but any lawyer with reasonable experience in contract law and/or intellectual property should be able to help you if all you want is a little customisation of a boilerplate licence.


"EULA" is just a fancy (legal) way of saying "license", so I would claim they are the same thing. I would not write my own license and would instead consult with a lawyer. Google "software license attorney" and see what you can find.

Good luck!

  • Any attorney with a Copyright specialization can help. They usually advertise themselves under the fallacious "intellectual property" heading. – greyfade May 31 '11 at 20:11

A license is permission to do something with the software that copyright and/or patent law would normally forbid (although licenses often grant you rights you already have).

EULA stands for End User License Agreement, and typically is used to get additional conditions on a contract for software the user has bought and paid for. It does grant a license.

Avoid writing your own license. You can legally do it, but you're likely to get something wrong. Find an "Intellectual Property" lawyer. It won't cost you nearly as much as a mistake in the license will.

If you want to release as F/OSS, there's plenty of licenses already available, and they've had legal vetting already.

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