Starting A FOSS Project? Then Know Your Licenses

by Sam Dean - May. 27, 2011Comments (2)

If you're working on an open source project, one of the early decisions you must make is which license the project will be released under, and choosing the perfect license is more complex than ever. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is out with a set of easy-to-follow guidelines for making the decision, and we've provided guidelines here at OStatic as well. Here is all you need to know to make an informed open source license decision.

The Free Software Foundation is the principal organizer of the GNU Project, and you can find the FSF's guidelines on choosing an open source license in this post. The guidelines cover how to choose an overall license for a project, and also cover making decisions on licensing modified versions of an existing project. 

Through the guidelines, you can gain knowledge about what Copyleft is, and why it's a favorable licensing strategy. For many creators, the FSF recommends the Apache License 2.0, with more details here. There are many other licenses to consider, including the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), and the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL). Notably, many open source projects don't license relevant documentation, but the GNU Free Documentation License is a wise choice for doing so. 

We've given a lot of coverage at OStatic to discussion of open source licenses. In this post, you can get to know the "Unlicense," a license that disclaims copyright interest in a piece of code altogether. It's also worth looking into our post on the Software Freedom Law Center's Legal Issue Primer. It contains a very thorough discussion of most popular open source licenses. And you can find much more introductory material on open source licenses in this post

Choosing the right license for your project goes along way toward preventing sticky legal issues down the road. It's wise to do some research in advance.


Shailesh Patel uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


"Starting A FOSS Project? Then Know Your Licenses"

"Here is all you need to know to make an informed open source license decision."

There is such a rainbow of licenses ... why is so obvious that this article is really biased ?

0 Votes

FSF is recommending Apache 2.0? Please be serious... FSF is main force for GPL. FSF recommends Apache 2.0 for special purposes. Read the original document at FSF more carefully.

0 Votes
Share Your Comments

If you are a member, to have your comment attributed to you. If you are not yet a member, Join OStatic and help the Open Source community by sharing your thoughts, answering user questions and providing reviews and alternatives for projects.

Promote Open Source Knowledge by sharing your thoughts, listing Alternatives and Answering Questions!