In an interconnected world where we see a rapid growth in the number of new libraries and tools that are available for development and in general, for technological advances, one important consideration leaders and teams should take into account is the licensing of the software they are using. Open source is an important weapon in the arsenal of any software development team, but it’s important to understand the different open-source licenses and how its usage may impact your application.
Licenses for open-source software
Open source licenses are legal agreements that dictate how software can be used, modified, and distributed. There are many different types of open source licenses, each with their own set of terms and conditions, Typically expressed in the shared source code, inside a file named
LICENSE.md. Understanding these licenses is important for any company that wants to use open source software in their applications. In this post we will cover the most popular open source licenses and the implications in the use of them.
The most popular open source license is the MIT License. This license allows anyone to use, modify, and distribute the software for any purpose, without any obligations to share the source code. This is known as “permissive,” and it gives users more freedom to use the software in closed-source applications.
GNU General Public License (GPL)
Another popular open source license is the GNU General Public License (GPL). This license allows anyone to use, modify, and distribute the software for any purpose, as long as they make the source code available to others. This is known as “copyleft,” and it ensures that any changes made to the software are also made available to the public.
Apache License 2.0
The Apache License 2.0 is also a permissive open-source license that allows the use, modification, and distribution of the software for any purpose, with the condition that the software includes a copy of the Apache license, and any use of the software must be attributed.
GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL)
The GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) is similar to the GPL, but it allows the software to be linked with other software that is not under the GPL. This makes it more suitable for use in commercial applications.
The BSD License is another permissive open-source license that allows the use, modification, and distribution of the software for any purpose, with the condition that the software includes a copy of the BSD license.
Mozilla Public License (MPL)
The Mozilla Public License (MPL) is a permissive open-source license that allows the use, modification, and distribution of the software for any purpose, with the condition that the software includes a copy of the MPL license.
Creative Commons Licenses
The Creative Commons licenses are different from traditional open-source licenses as they are more focused on protecting the authors' rights and allowing them to control how their work is used and shared. The Creative Commons licenses are not open-source licenses, but they are often used in conjunction with open-source software. The most common Creative Commons licenses are the Attribution (CC BY), Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA), and Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC).
As you can see there are many different open-source licenses, each with their own set of terms and conditions. Understanding these licenses is important for any enterprise that wants to use open-source software in their applications.
In conclusion, understanding the different open-source licenses is crucial for using open-source software in our applications. In some cases you will need to credit the author of the software, in others you will need to share the source code of your application. As technological leaders in your organization, it’s important to understand the implications of the open-source licenses being used within the solutions your teams build and plan ahead for any potential issues that may arise.
Wawandco teams, composed by active contributors for well known tools such as Gobuffalo and EmberJS, understand the importance of open-source software and the implications of the different open-source licenses. If you are looking for help with your next project, contact us today.