Open Source Licenses by Category

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License Index

In the lists below, a parenthesized expression following a license name is its SPDX short identifier, if one exists, except for two items in the first list (GNU General Public License and GNU Lesser General Public License). For these, the parenthesized expressions ("GPL" and "LGPL" respectively) are the common non-version-specific names of these licenses today (note also that the full name of the first version (2.0) of the LGPL is the GNU Library General Public License). There is no non-version-specific SPDX short identifier for the GPL and LGPL.

Licenses that are "popular and widely-used or with strong communities"

The below list is based on publicly available statistics obtained at the time of the Report of License Proliferation Committee.

International licenses

Special purpose licenses

Certain licensors, such as schools and the US government, have specialized concerns, such as specialized rules for government copyrights. Licenses that were identified by the License Proliferation Committee as meeting a special need were placed in this group.

Other/Miscellaneous licenses

    These licenses do not fall neatly into any category.

Licenses that are redundant with more popular licenses

Several licenses in this group are excellent licenses and have their own followings, however these licenses were perceived by the License Proliferation Committee as completely or partially redundant with existing licenses.

Non-reusable licenses

Licenses in this group are specific to their authors and cannot be reused by others. Many, but not all, of these licenses fall into the category of vanity licenses.

Superseded licenses

Licenses in this category have been superseded by newer versions.

Licenses that have been voluntarily retired

Self-defining category. No one should use these licenses going forward, although we assume that licensors may or may not choose to continue to use them.

Uncategorized Licenses

To promote and protect open source software and communities...

For over 20 years the Open Source Initiative (OSI) has worked to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, and build bridges between open source communities of practice. As a global non-profit, the OSI champions software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition (OSD), and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

Open source software is made by many people and distributed under an OSD-compliant license which grants all the rights to use, study, change, and share the software in modified and unmodified form. Software freedom is essential to enabling community development of open source software.