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What is the least restrictive software license?

David O'Meara

Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

I'm writing some code on sourceforge, and essentially I want a license that translates to:

Steal this code and use it for whatever you want. No support or guarantee is provided or implied - use at your own risk. Attribution would be nice but not essential.
Campbell Ritchie

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 46320
David O'Meara

Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

I'm not sure it was available on SF
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24199

That's basically "public domain".

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David O'Meara

Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

In the office we call it 'pants down', but it doesn't translate well.
Joe Ess

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 9188

What licenses are available on SF?
BSD is about as liberal as one can get.

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Nicholas Jordan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 17, 2006
Posts: 1282
You just wrote your license. The hard part is getting across that for anyone who is a pesitlence patent pretender, it makes absolutely no diff in any small degree. The best defense is that you have no money. I can put you in touch with the person who told me that if you want, they have a client list of 600 Licensed Counsel.

I find Creative Commons to be of vastly superior work effort and caliber. That's what I use. As well, I am trying to write a more good-humor Whiskey License ( for use in Saloons ) The bottom line is the people who make these things nec won't even read your license.

See Don Lancaster's: "Case Against Patents" ( tinaja.com )

I mostly write my licenses such that beginners are not intimidated to study the code, for others - you just wrote your license already.

"The differential equations that describe dynamic interactions of power generators are similar to that of the gravitational interplay among celestial bodies, which is chaotic in nature."
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 15080

Originally posted by Campbell Ritchie:

The GPL is certainly not the least restrictive open source license. The most characteristic restriction of the GPL is that if you derive something from a GPL-licensed piece of software, you must license your derived work under the GPL too.

Public domain means: I give up all rights to this work, you can do whatever you want to it. So I guess that would be the least restrictive license possible.

Another way of licensing that might be interesting is the Creative Commons family of licenses. These licenses allow you to control various restrictions as you want.

Here's a comparison of free software licenses.

Java Beginners FAQ - JavaRanch SCJP FAQ - The Java Tutorial - Java SE 8 API documentation
Pat Farrell

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659

I like your exact words, David. Why not just use it?

BSD and Apache, or Creative Commons, are far more friendly than any GPL, which is more of a license virus. For the past decade, any company that I've worked for explicitly prohibited using GPL "in" our code. We could use it to build our code. LGPL was OK, its less viral.

You may want to put a copyright message in it saying they can use it, but can't remove your copyright, but that is a different spirit than your original posting.

IANAL, but the idea behind explicit licenses is that you put in writing that there is no liability, warenteee, fitness of use, etc. so if they use it, its their problem, not yours.
David O'Meara

Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

I was reading a blog posting recently about 'giving back to Open Source'. While the point of the post was that if you use Open Source code, it is nice when you submit changes/fixes/enhancements back to the code base, I realised I have been more of a 'taker' in this respect and plan on making it better.

I have a project I have been meaning to work on for a while, and since I have a reasonable (pre-alpha) set of code is is worth preparing to make it available. I had a look at the GPL and it looks good enough for my requirements ie take, change, use, distribute, enjoy.
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