I checked BSD, GNU GPL and Creative Commons. They all allow the redistribution with giving the credit. I, however, don't want people to redistribute my product, but only use it. Is there a license for that?

  • Such licenses exist, but not in the free software world. Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 12:06
  • What do you mean by free software? My application is intended to be paid for, and it's not open-source. Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 15:41
  • 1
    @LeopardLGD: Indeed, which is why you haven't found anything useful by looking at open-source licenses like the ones you mention. If you want to get ideas, you would want to look at licenses for closed-source commercial software. But as mentioned below, if there's money at stake, you wouldn't typically want to do-it-yourself, and you'd consult a lawyer to actually draft a license that meets your needs. Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 16:46
  • In some contexts, such licenses are void as a matter of public policy under the First Sale Doctrine, but I'm not clear enough on the facts or exactly what is being asked to provide a proper answer. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 0:09
  • Most commercial software licenses are of this type. Try reading a few of the licenses of various paid-for software packages that you have access to, to see examples. They typically all will specifically disallow activities such as making copies, distributing copies to others, reverse engineering, etc.
    – Brandin
    Commented Jul 26, 2021 at 11:18

2 Answers 2


Commercial software licenses are generally written by a lawyer working for the publisher.

There are no ready-made texts you can just apply to your work, for several reasons, the most prominent of them being that lawyers are neither permitted nor interested in working for people who aren't their clients, and they are especially not interested in litigating a case around a license statement that someone else wrote, and where it is unclear what qualifications the person writing the license had.

The GPL was initially used only by the GNU project, and it was understood that contributors had to assign copyright to the project to give them standing to litigate against infringement. Laypeople using the license without copyright assignment is a later development, after there was sufficient case law.

So, you will need to hire a lawyer, preferable the same you will also hire when someone is in breach of your license.


A license which merely permits use will not permit distribution. The one exception is that in some jurisdictions if a person (or firm) transfers a lawfully acquired and licensed program to another, adn destroyies any instances noty transferred, the recipient may lawfully use the program under the original license and subject to its terms.

Permission to redistribute software, or any other work protected by copyright, must be specifically granted. In the absence if such permission (usually in the form of a license) making and distributing copies would be copyright infringement and could be the occasion of a civil suit for infringement.

Most open source and "free software" projects want users to distribute copies widely. So do so-called "shareware" projects. Licenses such as BSD, GNU, GPL, CC, MIT, and Apache (among others) are designed for projects where redistribution is desired, and are not suitable for commercial, closed-source software. Examine the license on several commercial consumer software packages. You will soon see common elements in many such license texts.

This list contains information about several books which describe in detail how to draft adn use software licenses, some in open-source situations, but some in close-source contexts. There are other similar books in print on this topic. These provide some alternatives to hiring a lawyer to draft a custom-license for a project, although getting actual legal advice may be wise at various steps of such a business venture.

I cannot specifically recommend any of these books, but I have used a somewhat similar book (now out of print and out of date) and found it satisfactorily for sideline published software ventures.

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