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#1 Pew446  Icon User is offline

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I have a couple Software Licensing questions.

Posted 08 October 2014 - 11:33 PM

Hi! I have a couple questions about licensing software, and I'm sure there will be someone here who can enlighten me :)

My first question is regarding providing copies of licenses. When using libraries in my software (I mainly use Java), many of them have licenses that say (For example, from the BSD 3-Clause License...) "Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution." That's fine, but where should I put this? Should the license be put next to the library's jar file? Or can I put it in some special location on my website? The reason I ask is because I look in the distributions for other software like Minecraft and although Minecraft uses a lot of libraries, they seem to include nothing about those libraries' licenses!

My second question is regarding licensing my own software under something different from what used libraries are licensed under. Am I allowed to do this? For example, if I wanted to license my software as GPL v2, and one of my libraries were licensed under the Apache License v2.0, can I do this? What if I wanted to license my software as closed-source software while using a GPL v2 licensed library?

I'm sorry if these are dumb questions, I've looked all over but the whole thing is very confusing to me. I hope someone can help answer these questions. If my questions aren't clear, let me know and I can revise them. Thanks!

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Replies To: I have a couple Software Licensing questions.

#2 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: I have a couple Software Licensing questions.

Posted 09 October 2014 - 04:01 AM

Choosing a licence:
http://choosealicense.com/

Follow Minecraft's example at your peril. Who knows what licence they aquired those libraries under. Just because anyone can download a library under the greater GPL licence doesn't mean Minecraft haven't contacted the authors and been granted a different licence. (it's unlikely but not impossible)

Licences are a complex topic. To get a proper answer you need to speak to a lawyer who specialises in software licences.

The following is what I go by. I'm not a lawyer so don't take it as legal advice

If the licence says I must provide the source or make it available upon request, I provide it as an archive with the executable. In a language like Java where the executable is already an archive, I usually just stuff it in the same archive. That way I'm safe and if anyone asks for the source I can explain they already have it and how to extract it.

Licences are often included as part of the source code so I think I'm covered there. If in doubt, I include their licence file in the same directory as the executable, and maybe mention it in my own licence if I'm paranoid.

If I have to determine if libraries with different licences are compatible in the same project, I all the licences carefully and look out for problems.

When I'm working out if libraries are compatible with my licence, I also read the licences very carefully. This time I pay particular attention to what counts as a modification, a derivative work and what's just using the library.

Some licences are a bit fuzzy about the distinction between using the library and making a derivative. When in doubt, I make sure that the library is not an essential part of the project. It either adds optional non-essential features or the code can fall back to a less efficient implementation if the library is not present.
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#3 Pew446  Icon User is offline

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Re: I have a couple Software Licensing questions.

Posted 12 October 2014 - 12:37 PM

Thanks, that was very helpful! Sorry for the late reply.
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