List of software licenses

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In computing, software that is copyrighted and licensed under a software license is done under a variety of licensing schemes. For end-users there are various licenses ranging from very restrictive proprietary licenses to open-source licenses.

There are also different licensing schemes for access to and use of source code. To address special intellectual property issues regarding source code, open-source licenses, and special licenses, such as copyleft, have been created.

Not all software is licensed, or even copyrighted, and this article is thus not an exhaustive list of the terms under which software is available in the market. Software may be published without an accompanying license, as License-Free Software, in which case it remains copyrighted, its distribution is subject to ordinary copyright law, and its sale is subject to ordinary sales law. In some countries, software may also be released to the public domain, in which case it is not copyrighted and the notion of a copyright license simply does not apply at all (although the other parts of a software license, including warranty provisions, will still apply to the sale of such software).

Open-source/free software licenses[edit]

The terms "open-source licenses" and "free software licenses" are usually interchangeable. While there is no one universally agreed-upon definition of free software, various groups that maintain approved lists of licenses. The Open Source Initiative is one such organization keeping a list of "open source" licenses. The Free Software Foundation maintains a list of what it considers free.[1]

Free software licenses[edit]

GPL 2-compatible[edit]

The GNU General Public License is a popular license, with offerings including Linux, such that it is useful to know if the license chosen is compatible with it. Knowing compatibility is important if a developer wants to avail him- or herself of the wide GPL Software Commons.

GPL 2-incompatible[edit]

The GPL has certain special requirements that make code under licenses incompatible (that is, cannot be licensed) under the GPL.

Non-free software license[edit]

  • Microsoft Reference License

License granted to the users of software marketed by software developers for a price and in some cases for a specified period.

Commercial Royalty-Free[edit]

A form of licensing where typically a development version of the product is for a fee but the deployment of applications built or assembled with or using the product do not incur an additional fee.

Free Licensed Closed-Source[edit]

  • Free Solaris Binary License
  • Free For non commercial Use
    • Can be used for free by a party if the goal does not involve commercial gain. If it is used for commercial gain, payment is required. If it is used for charity/personal objectives, payment is not required.

Pay Licensed Viewable-Source[edit]

  • Microsoft's Shared Source

Pay Licensed Closed-Source[edit]

  • Microsoft Windows' EULA

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Various Licenses and Comments about Them". Retrieved August 8, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses – Is GPLv3 compatible with GPLv2?". Retrieved 2014-06-03. No. Some of the requirements in GPLv3, such as the requirement to provide Installation Information, do not exist in GPLv2. As a result, the licenses are not compatible: if you tried to combine code released under both these licenses, you would violate section 6 of GPLv2. However, if code is released under GPL “version 2 or later,” that is compatible with GPLv3 because GPLv3 is one of the options it permits. 
  3. ^ Free Software Foundation. "A Quick Guide to GPLv3". Licenses. Free Software Foundation. 
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