Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have been granted permission to reduce the rules from our custom license used in Advanced Electron Forum project. I am not sure what exactly is needed to make the license above an open source license for the product but I think that third term is the one that should be removed/changed.

share|improve this question
If you have permission to alter the license, why not just change it to an established open source license? Using a recognised, popular license (GPL, LGPL, BSD, Apache, EPL etc.) is likely to increase the appeal to contributors. – mikera Jul 19 '11 at 17:13
I agree with Mikera, but don't bother with anything GPL-flavored unless your actual intention is to force users to conform to the Free Software ideology. If all you want is to get more people to use your code, the GPL will actively work against your goals. – Mason Wheeler Jul 19 '11 at 17:19
@Mason Wheeler: GPL is not the only open source license out there - BSD, MIT, Apache, Mozilla are much less restrictive AND a lot easier on the eyes. – tdammers Jul 19 '11 at 18:43
@tdammers: Yes, that was the point I was trying to make. – Mason Wheeler Jul 19 '11 at 18:44
@Mason Wheeler: The way you put it could be taken to mean "don't use the GPL (or any of the other options)", while I guess you actually mean "don't use the GPL (use one of the other options instead)". – tdammers Jul 19 '11 at 18:49
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Yes, point 3 has to go, and as I understand it, so does point 6, since a true open-source license has to be "non-discriminatory," and what's illegal in one country may not be in another.

But if you really want to make the work widely available, why not just use an existing open-source license? Take a look at the Mozilla Public License if you want the open-source nature of the code to be protected, or the BSD or MIT licenses if you don't care and only want to get people to use the code itself.

share|improve this answer
+1 for using an existing licence. Licence proliferation is a real issue. – Scott Jul 19 '11 at 17:19
ok thank you, we are aiming to release payed subscription for users, after the user pay for the subscription he gets the right to remove the copyright shown in the bottom of the page, does it make a complex with the license above ? – SAFAD Jul 19 '11 at 17:39
@SAFAD - Your question makes no sense. Are you asking if being able to remove the copyright will make it compliant with the license above? You do understand if the user has the source they wouldn't have to pay you right? – Ramhound Jul 19 '11 at 18:43
@SAFAD - I would read the following question:… – Ramhound Jul 19 '11 at 18:51

Sounds like what you are looking for is something like the Common Public Attribution License which is known as a Badgeware license. It did get OSI approved but it's not going to be particularly popular. The only issue is the copyright notice displayed on startup vs bottom of a page and how it applies to websites (should be OK as it's listed as being applied on the graphical user interface), the worst that happens is someone goes to lengths to have the copyright notice disappear after the first page visit. There is also the Adaptive Public License.

The original 4-clause BSD license has an clause requiring advertising.

Most commercial open-source products normally work by dual licensing under a GPL/commercial license. They keep a 'pro' version that has more features, better performance and so on but that doesn't seem like it's feasible for your situation.

It's worth thinking about if you want to force the code to be shared (like GPL) or a less restrictive MIT style license with your added copyright notice requirement. For web services provided over a network there is the AGPL license. Since the normal GPL only requires source to be provided when there is binary code distributed, the AGPL requires it to be accessible by anyone interacting with the software.

It's worth comparing the Open Source Initiative's "Open Source Definition" with the GNU foundation's Free Software Definition.

Also you shouldn't be writing a legal license unless your are a lawyer, or at least consult with one. At the very least you should ask in the the OSI mailing lists.

It's probably better to have an advertising badge rather than a copyright notice. An advertising badge makes it obvious that you make the forum software and gives people somewhere to go if they are interested in the forum software itself. It shows you're not somehow responsible for the website. As such, it can drive more people to your company. Also it's possible that the copyright makes a claim of owning all the copyright on the site itself rather than just the forum code, more extremely it might even be that making such a claim is somehow legally impossible and invalidates your entire license but I'm not a lawyer.

share|improve this answer

Point 5 of the license shares the following statement of JSON License.

The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil.

See discussion with the problem of the license. Basic, it boils down to how one jusrisdiction defines what is illegal, thus making the license hard to enforce.

share|improve this answer
That's actually less of an issue here. There is an established method of determining what is legal (courts, which are specific to each jurisdiction). There is no established method of determining what is Evil. The main problem here is that it's recursive: if X would break the license terms, then it's illegal (violates copyright law), and then X breaks the license terms. – MSalters Jan 10 '12 at 10:18

If you can, use one of OSI approved licenses. It's easier for you, and it is much easier for your users.

Look at truecrypt for example. It's a brilliant opensource software, but because it has it's own license it cannot be part of Ubuntu for example. In consequence, users cannot simply click and have it installed. They don't get automatic updates, etc. It's all only because the license...

So, once again - if you can, pick one of the OSI licenses and make the World better.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.