53 votes
Accepted

Is it legal to write a software license if I'm not a licensed attorney?

As Greendrake says, you can legally create your "open source" license. There are two problems with this: Since you are not an experienced contract lawyer, there is a significant risk that ...
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  • 25.4k
49 votes
Accepted

GPLv3-licensed project on Github seems to try to restrict commercial use

The second paragraph is an invitation for people who don't want to follow the terms of the GPL (e.g. who want to incorporate it into a larger closed-source work, or make closed-source modifications) ...
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  • 1,137
47 votes

Can a user sell my software (MIT license) without modification?

Yes. The license itself is really just one sentence long, and states explicitly that this is allowed. Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software ...
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45 votes

Do I really have to Open Source my project?

You need to know two things about the GPL: The GPL is a license which requires that when you distribute binaries, you distribute the source code with them (binaries being the things you can directly ...
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  • 575
40 votes
Accepted

Can an open source licence be revoked if it violates employer's IP?

The Apache 2.0 license purports to be irrevocable, but it also presupposes that the supposed licensor has the right to grant permission to copy. In this case, that is untrue, so there never was a ...
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  • 160k
28 votes

Do I really have to Open Source my project?

It depends on exactly how you are "using" the GPL code. If you have copied and modified the source code then you can only distribute copies under the GPL. If you have invoked a GPL program ...
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  • 12.1k
27 votes

Is it legal to write a software license if I'm not a licensed attorney?

Is it legal to write a software license if I'm not a licensed attorney? Yes. creating a contract is considered practicing law. Is that true? Yes and no. You don't even need to know what the word &...
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  • 20.1k
23 votes

How do trademarks apply to Open Source?

Being or not being open source makes fairly little difference in trademark law. If a commercial firm (Yoyodyne, say) had used the name "Portable Network Graphics" and the abbreviation "...
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  • 92.7k
22 votes

Copyright in copyleft licence?

No. GPL works are copyrighted (as are most creative works basically everywhere in the world, as soon as they're created, whether or not the author does anything about it), and copyright is what gives ...
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  • 389
21 votes
Accepted

Is a copyright notice with a non-existent name invalid?

Since the effective date of the US 1976 Copyright act, a copyright notice is not required at all on works published in the US, nor is it required on works published in any other country that adheres ...
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  • 92.7k
20 votes

Do copyright notices need to be placed at the beginning of a file?

Under the Berne Convention, a copyright notice is not required at all, although using one is good practice. Using one usually eliminates the claimed status of "innocent infringement", which, if found ...
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  • 92.7k
19 votes

Copyright in copyleft licence?

GPL does not purport that there is no copyright in a work to which the license applies: the works are still in copyright. It relies on the notion of copyright (which it redefines to include "similar ...
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  • 160k
17 votes

Would open source programs that use encryption be illegal under this draft of the "Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016"

Section 4, Definition 4 Covered Entity, emphasis added: The term "covered entity" means a device manufacturer, a software manufacturer, an electronic communication service, a remote computing ...
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  • 4,539
16 votes

How long does a GPL licencee have to respond to a source code request before it becomes a GPL violation?

The GPL does not explicitly specify a time within which the source code must be provided, which probably means a "reasonable time" is allowed. What is "reasonable" would eventually ...
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  • 92.7k
16 votes
Accepted

What is a binary form in software BSD license (and other licenses that didn't define it)?

Ultimately, these terms would have to be interpreted by a court in order to get clarity. But the phrasing “source or binary form” should likely be understood as “not just source form, but any form of ...
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  • 17.2k
15 votes

Can an open source licence be revoked if it violates employer's IP?

The License is not valid in the first place, as the developer did not have the right to attach the license to his work; the company does. If someone uses the developer's work, and the company sues ...
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13 votes
Accepted

Can I bundle MIT licensed components in a Apache 2.0 licensed project?

I realize there's already an answer, but I'd like to go into more detail. There are generally two kinds of open source software licenses: permissive and copyleft (the latter sometimes called viral). ...
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13 votes

Do I really have to Open Source my project?

What you have been told is incorrect. You are in no way required to release your product under an open source license, nor to publish it in any form. If you do "convey" a work that is under ...
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  • 92.7k
12 votes
Accepted

Trade restrictions on open source software

Publishing source code is protected under the First Amendment. Therefore the US government cannot stop anyone from publishing open source software, and once it is available from a web site it is ...
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  • 12.1k
12 votes

Are Word-Frequency lists copyrightable?

The underlying text(s) may be subject to copyright protection, but the individual words are not -- they are usually independently existing words of the language (there are invented words like "...
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  • 160k
12 votes
Accepted

Who can publish GPLv4?

In practice, it is abundantly clear to which entity the “Free Software Foundation” refers, even if the FSF were to change its name, even if there are unaffiliated organizations with the same name. ...
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  • 17.2k
11 votes
Accepted

Do international sanctions have an impact on Open Source Software?

Generally, such sanctions prevent certain sorts of transactions in goods and services with nationals or entities of the nation under sanction. The exact list of transactions prohibited or restricted ...
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  • 92.7k
10 votes

Is a copyright notice with a non-existent name invalid?

Copyright is held by (natural or legal) persons, not by names. A person continues to own their property when they change their name, including intellectual property such as copyrights. This is a bit ...
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  • 17.2k
10 votes

How do trademarks apply to Open Source?

For a real-world example, consider the early history of the browser now known as Firefox. The earliest releases were made under the name "Phoenix". The name was changed after trademark ...
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  • 794
10 votes

Am I at risk by storing or using software that violates copyright?

If you copy copyrighted material without permission or another exemption, you are at risk It doesn’t matter if you know the material is subject to copyright, it doesn’t matter if you think you have ...
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  • 151k
9 votes

GPLv3-licensed project on Github seems to try to restrict commercial use

To my understanding software under GPLv3 can be used commercially (e.g. as tool for company-internal calculations) with no restriction. No, it can't be used commercially with no restriction. It must ...
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9 votes
Accepted

Is my programming knowledge contaminated?

Clean room design is intended to protect against not only copyright liability, but possible trade secret liability as well. It avoids any possibility that any part of the expression of the source work ...
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  • 92.7k
8 votes
Accepted

Meaning of uppercase paragraphs in software licenses

Similar to this question and this one, the Uniform Commercial Code requires that exclusion of warranty be conspicuous. While it does not specify the manner in which text should be made conspicuous, ...
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  • 11.6k
8 votes
Accepted

Do I need to include the full text of the MIT license in the UI of my app?

You don't have to, but you probably want to for a couple of reasons: It's courteous, and in the spirit of open source It's someone else's work, and you're using it. The least you can probably say is &...
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