This lesson is being piloted (Beta version)

Software Licensing

This lesson provides an introduction to software licensing and related intellectual property issues for developers of scientific software. It will present common terminology and examples of some of the considerations that might go into choosing a license.

How you choose to license your software should be viewed as a tool to help accomplish your goals for that software. There is no universal “right answer”! And, depending on the circumstances, the answer may not be your decision. This lesson intends to get you thinking, not to give you answers.

Important Note

This is not legal advice. Consult with true experts before making any consequential decisions!




Setup Download files required for the lesson
00:00 1. Terminology and Background on Intellectual Property What is the primary form of intellectual property typically associated with software?
What is the purpose of a license for software?
At what point can you assert copyright over your software?
00:10 2. Why You Should Choose a License What are the two basic categories of software licenses?
What are the benefits of specifying a license for your software?
00:36 3. What is Open Source? What organization is considered to be the arbiter of whether or not a license is open source?
What are the ‘four freedoms’ by which the Free Software Foundation defines free (aka open-source) software?
What is the difference between a permissive and a copyleft license?
Is there a licensing scheme comparable to open-source for non-software works?
01:08 4. Why Choose Open Source Licensing? What are some of the reasons for preferring open-source licensing over proprietary?
Does open-source licensing prevent you from making money off of your software?
Does open-source licensing guarantee the sustainability of your software?
01:46 5. Choosing an Open Source License What are some of the reasons for going with an established open-source license instead of creating a new one?
What are some of the most popular open-source licenses?
Name a tool that can help with a more detailed understanding of common open-source licenses?
02:14 6. Documenting Your Choice of License What are the two basic strategies for documenting your choice of license?
What information should you include in each file in your software?
02:34 Finish

The actual schedule may vary slightly depending on the topics and exercises chosen by the instructor.