apropos

Some Software Licenses I Like

Jump to: 0BSD, MIT, GPL, Big Time, Anti-Capitalist, Fuck Around and Find Out, NO

I sometimes write code and publish it online. In order for it to be freely usable by others, thanks to our (insert derogatory term) copyright system, it must be explicitly licensed as such. So, I’ve collected a number of licenses over the years with different levels of restrictions, seriousness, and legal backing.

BSD Zero Clause License

full license

Copyright (C) [Year] [Name] [Website]

Permission to use, copy, modify, and/or distribute this software for any
purpose with or without fee is hereby granted.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE AUTHOR DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES WITH
REGARD TO THIS SOFTWARE INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY
AND FITNESS. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR ANY SPECIAL, DIRECT,
INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER RESULTING FROM
LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR
OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR
PERFORMANCE OF THIS SOFTWARE.

I probably use the 0BSD license the most. It is short, simple, and essentially equivalent to releasing works in the public domain. It does not require attribution nor the need to license derivatives under itself. There’s really not much to say about it: I appreciate it for its simplicity.

MIT License

full license

Copyright (C) [Year] [Name] [Website]

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy
of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal
in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights
to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is
furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all
copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY,
FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE
AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER
LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM,
OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE
SOFTWARE.

The MIT license is the most widely used license: at least on GitHub and presumably then overall. It’s similar to the 0BSD license in that it’s short, simple, and has almost no restrictions: but redistribution and derivatives must continue to bear the license and pay credit to the original author. If I want credit for some work but also don’t care about corporations using it, I use this license: this is rare enough though that I usually only end up using it when working on somebody else’s project.

GNU (Affero) General Public License

full license (link)

I also don’t use the A/GPL terribly often, but do enough to include it in here. This is a license essentially designed to defend against corporations. It’s dense and full of complex conditions, yet has been successfully legally tested in courts.

The A/GPL are designed around the ideals of the free software movement: and only the free software movement. There are no restrictions placed on the usage of your code, only that any code using it is similarly open sourced. Free software pays no attention to right and wrong, only to its continued propagation. I’ve found myself using it less and less as I drift away from the exclusive ideals of free software: yet if your sole concern is in the openness of the code, then it’s a good choice.

Big Time License

full license (link)

The Big Time license allows usage of software for personal and noncommercial purposes: but any corporate usage past a certain threshold of profit must be through a commercial license negotiated with the author. It is very much written in such a way not to scare off corporate users: if a big corporation wishes to use your software, you must provide a reasonable corporate license, otherwise the corporation can continue to use it indefinitely. The only venue against unsavoury corporations using your software, would be to use a different license. Yet if your code is unlikely to be used for nefarious purposes and you would like to hold the door open for corporate sponsorship, this is perhaps a good choice.

Now onto the fun ones.

Anti-Capitalist License

full license

ANTI-CAPITALIST SOFTWARE LICENSE v1.4

Copyright (C) [Year] [Name] [Website]

This is anti-capitalist software, released for free use by individuals and
organizations that do not operate by capitalist principles.

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person or organization
(the "User") obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation
files (the "Software"), to use, copy, modify, merge, distribute, and/or sell
copies of the Software, subject to the following conditions:

1. The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in
   all copies or modified versions of the Software.

2. The User is one of the following:
  a. An individual person, laboring for themselves
  b. A non-profit organization
  c. An educational institution
  d. An organization that seeks shared profit for all of its members, and
     allows non-members to set the cost of their labor

3. If the User is an organization with owners, then all owners are workers and
   all workers are owners with equal equity and/or equal vote.

4. If the User is an organization or educational institution, then the User is
   not law enforcement or military, or working for or under either.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY,
FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE
AUTHORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN
ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION
WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

The Anti-Capitalist Software License is also a license designed against corporations, somewhat similar to the GPL. Rather than allowing usage based on free software ideals, however, it is based on anticapitalist ideals: allowing usage by the individual but disallowing usage by corporations, but making notable exceptions for those that go against the ideals of capitalism: that is, non-profits, educational institutions, and worker-owned co-ops. It is short and to the point, and entirely untested in modern courts… but hey, realistically no excluded corporation is going to even attempt to use software with this thing attached.

Fuck Around and Find Out License

full license

the fuck around and find out license v0.1

copyright (c) [Year] [Name] [Website]

permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy
of this software and associated documentation files (the "software"), to deal
in the software without restriction, including without limitation the rights
to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
copies of the software, and to permit persons to whom the software is
furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

the above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all
copies or substantial portions of the software.

the software shall be used for Good, not Evil. the original author of the
software retains the sole and exclusive right to determine which uses are Good
and which uses are Evil.

the software is provided "as is", without warranty of any kind, express or
implied, including but not limited to the warranties of merchantability,
fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement. in no event shall the
authors or copyright holders be liable for any claim, damages or other
liability, whether in an action of contract, tort or otherwise, arising from,
out of or in connection with the software or the use or other dealings in the
software.

This is possibly my favorite license. While the Anti-Capitalist and Big Time licenses are pretty good: I do think they lack in some notion of morality. The Fuck Around and Find Out license fixes this by explicitly disallowing use by any entity meeting the author’s determination of Evil. This is obviously completely arbitrary and should scare away anyone with a remote amount of respect for the legal system, which is the intended purpose.

Thrown together by boringcactus, it’s basically the JSON license - which is hilarious, I wasn’t aware that the JSON license existed much less that, you know, JSON was licensed under it.

No.

full license

Copyright (C) [Year] [Name] [Website]

I do not give anyone permission to use this tool for any purpose. Don't use it.

I'm not interested in changing this license. Please don't ask.

This code may not be used for any purpose.

Sometimes I don’t want people to use my code. Ever. Under any circumstance. That’s what the “No” license - adapted from a library for monkeypatching in Go, and the two-sentence (yes, there’s multiple) Be Gay Do Crime license - is for.

Bantown Public License

I missed this one in the first draft of this post and I don’t know how - it’s very very good and has aged extremely well.

full license

BANTOWN PUBLIC LICENSE

Version 1.0, August 2005

Copyright (C) [Year] [Name] [Website]
Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license
document, but changing it is not allowed.

Preamble:

The licenses for most software are designed to allow you to use the software in
a legitimate enterprise. By contrast, the Bantown Public License is intended to
make sure you can only use software for criminal conduct. Minor technical
infractions not counting; you not only must break the law, you must piss all
over the spirit of it as well.


TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYING, DISTRIBUTION AND MODIFICATION

0. This License Agreement applies to any software library or other program
which contains a notice placed by the copyright holder or other authorized
party saying it may be distributed under the terms of this Bantown Public
License (also called "this License"). Each licensee is addressed as "you".

A "library" means a collection of software functions and/or data prepared so as
to be conveniently linked with application programs (which use some of those
functions and data) to form executables.

A "Library", below, refers to any such software library or work which has been
distributed under these terms. A "work based on the Library" means either the
Library or any derivative work under copyright law: that is to say, a work
containing the Library or a portion of it, either verbatim or with
modifications and/or translated straightforwardly into another language.
(Hereinafter, translation is included without limitation in the term
"modification".)

"Source code" for a work means the preferred form of the work for making
modifications to it. For a library, complete source code means all the source
code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition
files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the
library.

A "Program", below, refers to any such program or work, and a "work based on
the Program" means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright
law: that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it, either
verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another language.
(Hereinafter, translation is included without limitation in the term
"modification".)

The "Content", below, refers to a Program, Source code, and/or Library
distributed under this License.

1. This License disallows all uses of Content unless its intended use qualifies
for one of the exemptions outlined in section 2 of the Terms and conditions.

2. You may do whatever the fuck you please with the Content provided you commit
in the use of the Content at least three violations of any the following parts
of the United States Criminal Code:
   * 18 U.S.C. § 231 Civil Disorders
   * 18 U.S.C. § 371 Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States
   * 18 U.S.C. § 372 Conspiracy to impede or injure officer
   * 18 U.S.C. § 798 Disclosure of classified information
   * 18 U.S.C. § 842 Distribution of explosive materials
   * 18 U.S.C. § 1029 Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Access Devices
   * 18 U.S.C. § 1030 Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Computers
   * 18 U.S.C. § 1362 Communication Lines, Stations, or Systems
   * 18 U.S.C. § 1367 Interfering with the operation of a satellite
   * 18 U.S.C. § 1464 Broadcasting obscene language
   * 18 U.S.C. § 1507 Obstruction of justice, picketing or parading
   * 18 U.S.C. § 1508 Recording, listening to, or observing proceedings of grand or petit juries while deliberating or voting
   * 18 U.S.C. § 1531 Partial-birth abortions
   * 18 U.S.C. § 1751 Presidential and Presidential staff assassination, kidnapping, and assault
   * 18 U.S.C. § 2101 Riots
   * 18 U.S.C. § 2153 Destruction of war material, war premises, or war utilities
   * 18 U.S.C. § 2510 et seq. Wire and Electronic Communications Interception and Interception of Oral Communications
   * 18 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq. Stored Wire and Electronic Communications and Transactional Records Access
   * 18 U.S.C. § 3121 et seq. Recording of Dialing, Routing, Addressing, and Signaling Information

3) No warranty expressed or implied.

Further reading: boringcactus/anti-license-manifesto, anneloverso/software-licenses, ErikMcClure/bad-license