Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Open Source Licenses

Not until a few days ago, when I was about to submit source code to be hosted on bioinformatics.org, did I realise how many different open source licenses are out there. I thought that open source was open source, but the plethora of license texts actually imply very different obligations for the user. For example I did not know that if you distribute a program under the GPL (GNU General Public License) you have the choice to either distribute the complete source code with it or "Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code...". There are many more details that could make a difference, so I think it is well worth reading the full license texts along with the wiki comparison of free software licenses before deciding which license to choose for your program.

Read the full license text from the Open Source Initiative: http://www.opensource.org/licenses/

Illustration courtesy: Neuton.net

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