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Guidance on choosing suitable license

by hda (Hermit)
on Jun 13, 2018 at 12:21 UTC ( #1216551=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??
hda has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

Dear monks,

During many years I have written simple (crude?) code for use within the limited realms of research projects. Those code snippets rarely left the relatively secluded circles for which they were developed.

There is now some interest in a couple of scripts that I have written. Those are nothing advanced nor extraordinary, but there might be some value in them. I would gladly like to share them upfront, but I want to limit the capabilities of the parties that get the code to make them proprietary or closed: I want my humble code to remain open and free, while not harming anyone's ability to modify or build upon them to make better code that may or may not be sold or be used commercially.

I am not initiated into licenses for free and open source software and would need some pointers and guidance. I have seen a few sites (like this one: https://choosealicense.com/) but I am a bit stunned by the variety and complexity of the issue. I am leaning towards a LGPL license, but fear that there may be something better. I would appreciate your guidance in this respect.

Thanks in advance

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Guidance on choosing suitable license
by rizzo (Pilgrim) on Jun 13, 2018 at 12:56 UTC
      Thanks for your response and pointer, rizzo. Yes, of course I know FSF. Fortunately it is all fairly well explained.
Re: Guidance on choosing suitable license
by Anonymous Monk on Jun 13, 2018 at 14:04 UTC

    I would gladly like to share them upfront, but I want to limit the capabilities of the parties that get the code to make them proprietary or closed
    That's what "copyleft" family of licenses is about: users are free to use the code in any way they wish to, but if they change it and redistribute, modified source code must also be made available.

    while not harming anyone's ability to modify or build upon them to make better code that may or may not be sold or be used commercially
    LGPL allows other code that uses your code to retain whatever license it has, even if it's not free software.

    You may not want plain GPL for library code because other software that uses it may be the considered derivative work and may be subsequently required to be distributed under GPL. BSD, MIT and similar "permissive" licenses don't have the so-called "viral" property (they don't require dependent code to be distributed under same license), but they also don't require much more that attribution: any modifications to your redistributed code may remain in closed-source form. You may also be interested in the Artistic license (license of Perl itself, BTW): clauses (7) and (8) make is possible to use such code in non-free applications but any modifications to your own code must remain free.

    But your choice of LGPL is certainly good for your stated goals.

      Thanks for your thorough response, AnonymosMonk. Indeed, LGPL suits my needs very well. I will adopt this one.
Re: Guidance on choosing suitable license
by taint (Chaplain) on Jun 13, 2018 at 15:46 UTC
      Thank you, taint, for your response. These are useful links indeed.
Re: Guidance on choosing suitable license
by hda (Hermit) on Jun 14, 2018 at 19:24 UTC

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