Free and Open Source License Comparison

You can use this chart to compare the major attributes of the most popular Free and Open Source Software licenses. I have been researching the major licenses, and it's hard to keep the differences between them straight, at least for me, so I prepared this chart that you may find useful. Those of you who know about this subject, please feel free to offer comments. I will revise the chart from time to time in the light of what I learn from you.

 



Project-based File-based Permissive

Licenses: GPL 2 LGPL 2.1 MPL 1.1 CDDL 1.0 CPL 1.0 ECLIPSE 1.0 APACHE 2.0 NEW BSD MIT
You may:









Use
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Modify
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Distribute
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Link to other programs under at least some circumstances without creating a derived work

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
As an original author, specify that the same license version be used for future releases, rather than allowing them to use new license versions



Yes















If you distribute you are required to:









Make source code available
Yes Yes Yes Yes




Display copyright notice
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Provide copy of license
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mark changes
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Disclaim warranty
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Disclaim liability
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
License modified files within the work under the same terms (“weak copyleft”)
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes


License larger derived works under the same terms (“strong copyleft”)
Yes Yes






Indemnify earlier contributors when you offer a warranty of your own


Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Grant licenses for all relevant patents you own


Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes












If you distribute you are prohibited to:









Assert patent claims against the work
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Assert patent claims against contributors' other software


Yes
Yes



Use the names of original authors or contributors in advertising without permission






Yes Yes
Distribute if doing so would be subject to a third-party license
Yes Yes Unless you disclose





Distribute if doing so would conflict with law or regulation
Yes Yes Unless you disclose
















Legend:






GPL 2: GNU General Public License, Version 2
Disclaimer: This chart is designed to provide information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is to be understood that the author is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a professional person should be sought. This chart is in no way intended to convey the official position of Sun Microsystems with regard to any software license.
LGPL 2.1: GNU Lesser General Public License, Version 2.1
MPL 1.1: Mozilla Public License, Version 1.1
CDDL 1.0: Common Development and Distribution License, Version 1.0
CPL 1.0: Common Public License, Version 1.0
ECLIPSE 1.0: Eclipse Public License, Version 1.0
APACHE 2.0: Apache License, Version 2.0
NEW BSD: The BSD License, 1999 version
MIT: The MIT License

Update 6 June 2007: In response to the kind comment from Mads I have removed the "specify the same license version" clause as an attribute of the Apache License. I am beginning to think that Apache should really be classified as a Permissive license.

Comments:

"As an original author, specify that the same license version be used for future releases, rather than allowing them to use new license versions" - not quite correct for the ASL. Indemnify earlier contributors when you offer a warranty of your own and Grant licenses for all relevant patents you own - not quite right for ASL. More things are unclear.

Posted by Mads on June 04, 2007 at 06:47 AM PDT #

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