Sybase Open Watcom Public License

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Sybase Open Watcom Public License
SPDX identifierWatcom-1.0
Debian FSG compatibleNo
FSF approvedNo[1]
OSI approvedYes[2]
GPL compatibleNo
CopyleftVery strong

The Sybase Open Watcom Public License is a software license that has been approved by the Open Source Initiative.[2] It is the licence under which the Open Watcom C/C++ compiler is released.

The license has not been accepted as "free" under the Debian Free Software Guidelines, due to the license's termination clauses.[3][4]

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has stated that the license is not "free" as it requires the source to be published when you "deploy" the software for private use only.[1] In contrast, FSF's General Public License (GPL) does not require that a modified source code has to be made public when the software modification was only used privately without a public release of the software. This makes the Watcom license also GPL incompatible and a stronger copyleft license than the GPL and even the AGPL.

The Fedora project also considers the license as non-free, citing the FSF argumentation.[5]


Version 1.0 appears to have been written in 2002. It's publicly released no later than January 8, 2003, the date of the initial release of Open Watcom C/C++.

The draft of version 2.0 of the License was published on 20 January 2004. This version incorporated changes from Apple and made the licence less specific to OpenWatcom.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b "Various Licenses and Comments about Them - Sybase Open Watcom Public License version 1.0 (#Watcom)". Retrieved 2015-12-23. This is not a free software license. It requires you to publish the source code publicly whenever you "Deploy" the covered software, and "Deploy" is defined to include many kinds of private use.
  2. ^ a b "Sybase Open Watcom Public License version 1.0". Approved Licences. Open Source Initiative. 31 October 2006.
  3. ^ Debian Bug report #376431 RFP: openwatcom.
  4. ^ Is the Sybase Open Watcom License ok?, thread on debian-legal mailing list (July 2006).
  5. ^ Fedora Wiki: Licensing
  6. ^ Markus Neifer (2004-01-20). "MN Watcom News Page".
  7. ^

Further reading[edit]