Choosing the right open-source license

Choosing the right open-source license

When selecting an open source license, consider the following general guidelines:

  • If you don’t care to place any restrictions on how people use your software and are not interested in what happens to your software from subsequent distributions, then the MIT license will work for you.

    • The MIT can also work with commercial enterprises.

    • However, the MIT license, unlike the Apache, doesn’t contain an explicit language concerning copyright and patten grants, as well as explicit language on trademarks, using the MIT selection criteria as a basis.

  • If you do care about controlling distribution and you do want to ensure your code does not end up getting consumed into proprietary code with no benefits to the greater open source community, then the GPL license will work for you.

    • Remember that choosing this option may chill the commercial uptake of your project because of the reciprocal copy left nature of the GPL code.

    • If clear boundaries can be maintained between proprietary code and your GPL code, then the GPL, in terms of commercial adoption may be more feasible and palatable.

  • If on the other hand, your goal is to have some appreciable commercial adoption of your code, and your are seeking to make it feasible to have commercial organizations contribute back to your project, then the Apache license will work for you.

    • Remember, the Apache license is a permissive license, such that reciprocal nature of the GPL doesn’t apply, and for commercial organizations that are going to get into and modify open source code, this is an important consideration.”