How to Choose Open Source License for Your Open Source Software

2020-12-28 11:46:06
Chuck Wong
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Summary : Open source license is more related to the purpose of the author. As a business entity, Naure Easy Soft is more cautious when it comes to choose a license. If you take it more like a hobby, you can choose BSD and the like which is not so protective.

ZenTao ALM, Zsite CMS and Zdoo collaborative system are three open source products from Nature Eays Corp. The three serve organizations in different aspects, and the licenses used are slightly different. ZenTao and Zdoo were released under LGPL, while Zsite under ZPL, a license drafted by Nature Easy Corp.

Why release ZenTao and Zdoo under LGPL

LGPL is more moderate, compared to other licenses. GPL, LGPL, AGPL, Apache, BSD and MIT licenses are commonly used.


In terms of protectiveness, AGPL is the most protective one, and Apache, BSD and MIT are relatively not so protective. GPL or AGPL were not chosen, for they are too strict for companies that require software released under GPL or AGPL. If released under the two, it will affect the promotion and popularity of ZenTao and Zdoo.


BSD, Apache and MIT licenses are far too loose. It could barely protect anything, if code was copied and modified by others to release as a copycat. This happened to our team. Considering all the pros and cons, LGPL was chosen to release ZenTao and Zdoo.


ZenTao and Zdoo later were changed to be released under ZPL. You will read more about ZPL in the following passages.

What is ZPL and why

Zsite was released under LGPL at first, and then ZPL was chosen to replace it later. This is due to the special features of Zsite which is designed to help build their official website like a CMS tool. Zsite has various powerful features and is simple to use. Our team were thrilled to know that Zsite is so popular, but also frustrated that users removed Zsite logos and such. In terms of Zsite promotion, it is a great thing to see that Zsite logos and links are kept, but LGPL cannot stop such actions.


On the other hand, Zsite is for public and external, and users are more concerned about the license, compared to ZenTao and Zsite users who use the two mainly inside of their organizations. Therefore, Z Public License (ZPL) was drafted to keep Zsite logos and links. Detailed ZPL v1.2 items can be found HERE.

License and third-party code

It is frequently asked whether any third-party code is accepted. The answer is NO.


The main reason is to protect the copyright of the code. For mature open source software, some related copyright notice/agreement has to be signed before submitting your code to us. Some coders would release what they code for work/their employer as an open source software, which is illegal. The code is what you created at work and for your work. If not clearly stated, it belongs to the employer. Unless the employer is for open source, you should not release it. Therefore, third-party code is not accepted, but there is something else you can do to release your software with us. You can release your code as plug-ins, and the copyright will be yours. You can release it as open source or paid service, which is pretty flexible, and it ensures the copy right of the code. It saves much todo for both parties, if there are some big moves, such as donating code to a certain foundation, our team do not have to contact each third party to sign the legal documents.

Conclusion

Open source license is more related to the purpose of the author. As a business entity, Nature Easy Soft is more cautious when it comes to choosing a license. If you take it more like a hobby, you can choose BSD and the like which is not so protective.


Happy open source!

Reference

1. https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/20720190

2. https://vulpo.one/posts/opensource-licenses.html

3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Floss-license-slide-image.png

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