If a software utility developer desired to issue a license to his or her software for free for non-commercial use or for individual users, while restricting the free usage of the software by companies of a certain size, requiring the latter to purchase the rights to use the software, does such a license exist and is there a public template one could use as a guide? If so, might it also include a clause stating that the free usage of the software shall require the user to credit the developer in the credits or about page?

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    So something like CC BY-NC 4.0, but for software? Also see opensource.stackexchange.com Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 23:59
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    Thanks @PyRulez, that's almost what I'm looking for (I prefer individual devs without company behind them would be able to use it freely even for commercial, but not critical). anyway will this license stick with a software product?
    – Ronen Ness
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 0:17
  • @A.fm.: Your edit changed the group who receive free licenses from "individual OR non-commercial" to "individual AND non-commercial".
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 6:23
  • Ah, you're right, @BenVoigt - Looking at it now, though, doesn't it seem incongruous that OP would allow free use if it is non-commercial or if it is used by an individual, because that would allow an individual to use it for commercial use (or for commercial use by non-individuals, in some cases)? Honestly asking here, been a long day and it's totally possible I'm simply misinterpreting the logic.
    – A.fm.
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 6:38
  • @A.fm. Whether or not it's a good idea, the assumption that a company can better afford paying for tools than an individual can is not uncommon.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 6:47

2 Answers 2


I'm only asking if there's anything like this free to use or a template to create something like that.

If you're serious about a software license both protecting you from liability and also allowing you to be able to enforce the license against commercial users who don't pay you, get a lawyer to write up a license.

It is a bad idea to use a template or somehow "roll your own" license by writing it yourself or copying (and violating copyright on what you copy) and/or modifying other licenses for what you think you need. You're not a lawyer, and you will miss critical parts of the license which provide enforceability and could even render the contract simply void, as well as not protect you from liability. A lawyer wil cover all the bases, including aspects which you didn't think of.

A lawyer will know if it is possible to base the license on a Creative Commons license that covers free, individual use, but make it also legally binding for commercial users per number of seat usages.

If you're serious about getting paid for commercial use and serious about being able to protect yourself, your copyright and your product when sued, get a lawyer.


The CC-BY-NC-ND license, combined with with a standard license for proprietary commercial software for those who pay would come very close to this, except that it does not include any size standard -- it prohibits free use for all commercial purposes, whether individual, or by a company of any size. If the developer truly wants to permit free use by a company under a certain size, a custom licensee would be needed, and it would be wise to have it reviewed by a lawyer with knowledge of software licenses. In drafting such a custom license, one would need to consider how size would be measured: gross receipts, profits, number of employees, or what. One would need to consider what is to happen when a company "small enough" to get a free license starts to use the program, and then grows so that it is now in the payment required zone. Would companies be required to register their use with the copyright owner? No doubt other issues should be considered as well. The time to consider such issues is before releasing the software.

  • You can't have SA and ND in the same license, it would be a contradiction ("derivatives must be shared alike, and also there must not be any derivatives"). You have to pick one or the other.
    – Kevin
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 17:01
  • @Kevin, I believe you are mistaken. SA ND means you can share it with anyone under the same license, but not under any other license, and may not create derivatives., I will check the CC site. Commented May 10, 2021 at 19:12
  • You can always share it (verbatim) with anyone under the same license, for any CC license (subject to the BY and NC conditions). SA is only relevant if derivatives are involved.
    – Kevin
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 19:22
  • @Kervin you nare correct,, I was in nerror. I thoguht thst CC-BY or CC-BY-ND allowed any reuser to distribute the original under a different license, but I was incorrect. I will update my answer. Commented May 10, 2021 at 19:27

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