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Types of Software Licenses

This post enumerates the main software licenses that are common in the software industry.

List of types of Software Licenses

The types of software licenses described on this post are:

  1. Public domain
  2. Permissive, also known as BSD-style or Apache-style licenses
  3. Lesser General Public License (LGPL)
  4. Copyleft, also known as reciprocal or restrictive licenses
  5. Propietary

Public domain

This is the most permissive type of software license. When software is in the public domain, anyone can modify and use the software without any restrictions.

Permissive

They contain minimal requirements about how the software can be modified or redistributed. This type of software license is perhaps the most popular license used with free and open source software.

Example of permissive licenses are:

  • BSD license
  • Apache license
  • MIT license

Lesser General Public License (LGPL)

Allows you to link to open source libraries in your software. If you simply compile or link an LGPL-licensed library with your own code, you can release your application under any license you want, even a proprietary license. But if you modify the library or copy parts of it into your code, you will have to release your application under similar terms as the LGPL.

In conclusion, LGPL may be linked to propietary code if no changes are applied to original code. In contrast, software with licenses GPL, for example, could never be linked to propietary code.

Copyleft

These licenses allow you to modify the licensed code and distribute new works based on it, as long as you distribute any new works or adaptations under the same software license.

Example of copyleft license:

  • GPL

Propietary

The most restrictive software license of all types. The idea behind it is that all rights are reserved. It is generally used for proprietary software where the work may not be modified or redistributed.

External references

pmgallardo

About pmgallardo

I studied Computer Science at University of Salamanca. Since then, I have been working first as developer and then as SAP consutant. This blog is about problems I dealt when using computers, and more important, the solutions I found. Whenever I am on an issue and suddenlly I have a flash that leads me to a solution, I document my discoveries in a post.

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