Talk:Comparison of free and open-source software licenses

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  • Cleanup : Treat licence compatibilites outside of the Approvals section

License compatibility[edit]

The problem with this page, although well-intentioned, is that a global opinion about license compatibility is just that: global, and an opinion. Whether one license is compatible with another really isn't your, mine, or his decision to make. It is a decision that only a licensor can make. I may think that the BSD license is compatible with the GPL. If I do, then it doesn't matter if somebody else says it isn't, because I'm not going to initiate a lawsuit. Whatever the licensor says, goes, even if everybody else disagrees with him. RussNelson 01:12, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

That's a very interesting point of view
But i prefer to focus on the legal aspect only,that is to say if there are compatible or not
A text explaining your point of view can be added
We can also talk about additional permissions such as in the gpl where someone can give aditional permission on his code
This could be useful in order to cope with incompatibilities

00 tux 22:20, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, 00tux, but you cannot wiggle out of this philosophical problem simply by claiming that you are focussing on the legal aspect only. It's not enough to say whether a license is compatible or not. You have to say who says it, and who will listen to them. So, when the FSF says that the Apache 2.1 is not GPL compatible, and yet the ASF says that it is, who is right? You can't say who is right -- not if you want a NPOV. You have to say who says it, and who will listen to them. RussNelson 02:47, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

But there are global opinions pertaining to some of the licenses. If there's any debate as to whether certain licenses are compatible, their cell can just say 'contested', right? --Snarius 05:01, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

For me it`s interesting. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:22, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

Great points. But in the end, in the US and most countries, it's the courts who decide what each license means. Anything that is vague enough to be argued about, won't be clear until the wording is changed or it is challenged in court. I like Snarius' 'contested' idea, or at least adding *lots* of footnotes. --GlenPeterson (talk) 12:45, 3 September 2008 (UTC)


I'm not really sure what to do with the gigantic table; it's not readable as it is, and there appears to be only one entry filled in... Cheyinka 10:16, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

This article is not worth putting any effort into it because of the philosophical problems I explained above. This article cannot be repaired because everyone who reads it has a POV that is important, and yet which may differ with the contents of the article. An NPOV article is simply not possible. Rather than try to achieve the impossible, better to not try. RussNelson 14:45, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I've reduced its size somewhat. It might be easier to edit now. --Snarius 05:18, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

License Features[edit]

I added two columns on "license features" which treads dangerous close to NPOV. (Specifically, the default "yes/no" templates seem to suggest "yes" is good and "no" is bad, implying a value judgement.) In this case, I made "yes" be the least restrictive option, which is arguably a value judgement. Oh well. There's a reference to the chart this is based off (no original research) but I haven't really figured out a good way to link it. So right now it's a footnoot in the standard <ref> style. I don't really like that, but - oh well.

The table columns are a little wider than I'd like, since I tried to make the column titles as descriptive as possible. It may be better to choose simple titles for them and then add footnotes describing what is intended. — Xenoveritas 22:09, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

Obviously I meant "non-NPOV" above - blah. I should have noticed that earlier. — Xenoveritas 02:47, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

License features are interesting. I guess not all licenses are resistant to any law tricks, like foul tricks with patents? A feature is for me for example resistant against foul patent tricks, or compatible with GPL, or copyleft, or license change allowed, many more... What about a new table for this?

Shared Source[edit]

Microsoft has some shared source licenses now. Two or so got also approved. Shouldn we add those licenses to this overview? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:26, 15 May 2008 (UTC)


The LGPL has a "Yes" in the "Link from code with a different license" column. While strictly true, it requires that you allow your code to be disassembled and reverse-engineered. I think this deserves at least a footnote... --GlenPeterson (talk) 12:53, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

No. It only require that the author of the combined work of an LGPL and non-LGPL work to not actively restrict users to reverse-engineer the LGPL part, and only the LGPL part of the work. The intent here is that the licensees should be able to modify the LGPL library part, and then re-link it with the application (like applying a security fix to a PDF parsing library being used in a browser). Any footnote would had to include the complete context, or it would confuse the reader. Belorn (talk) 07:46, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

Is it possible to relicense LGPL code as GPL code? It was possible with LGPL v2.1, wasn't it? Originalfmg (talk) 23:20, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

Yes. Any work solely licensed under the LGPL can be relicensed under the GPL (of the LGPL version). If its a combined work of LGPL and non-permissive licensed parts, then the combined work as a whole can not be relicensed. The purpose of allowing relicensing is mostly to allow copy and paste to be used from an LGPL source to a GPL project. Belorn (talk) 07:46, 5 November 2012 (UTC)


I'd like to see the details from this table [1] included in a "features" table on this article. I believe something like this would be very useful. --Hm2k (talk) 00:54, 29 October 2008 (UTC)


Doesn't CDDL have a copyleft similar to MPL? Shouldn't "Release changes under a different license" be "No" and red? I'm not 100% sure about this, thus I didn't want to change it before asking. (Puce77 (talk) 12:39, 16 June 2010 (UTC))

Ni Faiwaiza (talk) 05:10, 25 September 2013 (UTC)


Could someone comment on Common Public Attribution License? I'm no software licensing expert or lawyer so if anyone knows how to classify CPAL, it would be greatly appreciated! (Note, it claims it is a free software license, but I don't see it on here... unless it is the same thing as "Common Public License"? I don't think so though as CPAL seems more conditional... here's an example of a CPAL for a popular ESB software with a "community" open source version released under CPAL, and an "Enterprise" commercial version: —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bcmoney (talkcontribs) 20:24, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Merge June 2012[edit]

I think List of FSF-approved software licenses should be merged here. In addition, we should merge in the free software section of List of software licenses; there is no reason to maintain this information in 3 places. --KarlB (talk) 18:12, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

I agree entirely. In addition, after merging the useful content from List of software licenses, I would redirect it to Software license. The licenses under "commercial royalty-free" are open source by the common sense definition, and can go in this list. If that bothers anyone this list can be renamed to Comparison of software licenses, but in any case we ought to consolidate these lists into one. – Pnm (talk) 18:29, 21 June 2012 (UTC)

Agreed - maintain in one place only. However "commercial royalty-free" isn't necessarily the same as open source as the source may not be available. Leornian (talk) 22:58, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Support No brainer, the list is a content fork. Pokajanje|Talk 17:27, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
I just went ahead & did it. Now somebody should unify the tables. Pokajanje|Talk 17:42, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

Multiple versions of licenses[edit]

The tables and discussions only include the latest version of a given license - for instance GPLv3. But developers can (and do) use older versions. The GPL is a good example of this - many projects (e.g. Linux) continue to use the older version GPLv2 because they do not like the provisions of the newer one.

I suggest that the article be modified to include older versions that are still in wide use - at a minimum GPLv2.

DEJ — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:36, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

SPDX License List[edit]

Should we synchronize the list of licenses in the article with the SPDX License List? --Matthew Raymond (talk) 21:59, 11 March 2014 (UTC)


Hi, I plan to remove the Copyfree column as not notable. Nothing is wrong with starting your own server and offering some free service, quite the contrary, it's brilliant. But an article with no external reference at all, and "legal experts" offering their opinion not recognized anywhere outside of this Wikipedia comparison, IANAL, this can't be a good idea, or can it? –Be..anyone (talk) 09:10, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Update, after a 2nd AFD in April Copyfree is now a redirect to Free_content#Copyfree; still without any legal experts in sight. –Be..anyone (talk) 03:31, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Article comparison[edit]

The section Article comparison begins with a hidden inline comment This matrix/chart needs an introduction to explain clearly what each of the column entries means. In fact the complete table is bogus, I've removed three columns with no info at all (= all cells filled with yes). The rest of the table (12×11 cells) is still bogus, mostly saying that the five GNU licenses differ from the six other licenses in four columns, some unsourced details about trademarks, and 26 empty dunno cells. The best way to fix these issues could be to remove the section, or to transform the table in some referenced statements highlighting the differences. –Be..anyone (talk) 02:04, 25 March 2015 (UTC)

After a complete reorganization of the page (two instead of three tables) this comment is now obsolete. –Be..anyone (talk) 11:52, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

Eclipse Public License limited linking, distribution, modification[edit]

The row on the Eclipse Public License described linking, distribution and modification as "Limited", with footnote 7 pointing to the "eclipse public license version 1" without an explanation. What does "Limited" really limit? Daviding (talk) 15:47, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

"No TM" column (and more) unclear, TM vs endorsment[edit]

Lots of licenses say noting about trademarks, e.g. BSD and MIT. [Or anything about patents, "Patent grant" would be "No", except no free or open-scource license would explicitly NOT grant patents so I go with "Manually".] Should the column be "Grants TM"? And is this unrelated to:

XCore Open Source License: "Neither the name of XMOS, nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this Software or the Documentation without specific prior written permission of the copyright holder."

And it's Hardware License Agreement:

"Neither the names of XMOS, nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this Open Design or the Documentation without specific prior written permission of the copyright holder." comp.arch (talk) 18:51, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Seems MPL does not grant trademarks (similar to Apache). See sections: 2.1, 2.3 "This License does not grant any rights in the trademarks, service marks, or logos of any Contributor (except as may be necessary to comply with the notice requirements in Section 3.4)." and 3.4 comp.arch (talk) 19:04, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Apple Public Source License 1.x[edit]

The Approvals table says that OSI approved the "Apple Public Source License 1.x", but I can’t find it on OSI’s site (they seem to have only approved the version 2 of this license). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:52, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

It doesn't make any sense for "copyleft" to be the same color as "with restrictions" and "limited"[edit]

...since the whole point of copyleft is to remove all restrictions... can we change copyleft to blue in the table? I think that would differentiate it nicely from both the non-reciprocal permissive and the restrictive licenses. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thgntlmnfrmtrlfmdr (talkcontribs) 03:15, 17 March 2016 (UTC)

Cyan would be better I think after thinking about it a little. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thgntlmnfrmtrlfmdr (talkcontribs) 03:20, 17 March 2016 (UTC)

Use the term FLOSS instead of FOSS[edit]

To be more neutral, it is better to use "Free/Libre Open Source Software". See Stallman's reasoning here: It is a reasonable change I think. Free is not gratis, or free as in free beer but as in freedom ;-) Filiprino (talk) 11:44, 17 May 2017 (UTC)

See my longer answer at Talk:Free and open-source software § Move to FLOSS. There are many reasons to admire, listen to, and support Richard Stallman; but he (and FSF) is not a neutral source on these things, which he openly states in that article. I suggest that further discussion of this point be on the other article's talk page, to avoid fragmented discussion. Murph9000 (talk) 20:47, 1 June 2017 (UTC)