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Comparison of Licenses

License Intended scope Copyleft Practical modifiability Attribution Related rights Access control prohibition Worldwide applicability
Against DRM Works Normal No Copyright notice No Licensor & Licensee Exact translations
CC0 Public Domain Dedication Generic No No No No No Same license (English version)
Creative Commons Attribution Generic No No No No No National adaptations
Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike Generic Normal No No No No
Design Science License Generic, optimally science data Normal No Copyright notice No No Same license (English version)
Free Art License Works of art Normal No No No No Exact translations (USA law)
FreeBSD Documentation License Documentation No No Copyright notice Template:NO No Same license (English version)
GNU Free Documentation License Documentation Normal No No No No Same license (English version)
GNU Lesser General Public License Generic, optimally Software No No No No Same license (English version)
GNU General Public License Generic, optimally Software No No No No {{no}
Lizenz für Freie Inhalte Generic No No No No No


MirOS Licence Generic (software, content, …) No No Copyright notice No No Same licence (English version)
MIT License Software No No Copyright notice No No Same license (English version)

List of licenses

Against DRM

BSD-like non-copyleft licenses

In parallel with the set of GNU licenses (including the GNU GPL), the free software world evolved a number of very simple permissive (copyfree) licenses. These licenses are so simple that no dedicated text is needed to expose the terms of the license. To reuse such a license, you must take its text and replace the copyright notice with your own. Since these licenses are non-copyleft, changing the license text in such a way does not prevent reuse between works from happening.

Regardless of their wording, these licenses always grant the user very broad rights, including the right to modify and distribute without supplying any source code. Also, their concise wording makes them simple to understand and unambiguous as to their effects.

These licenses are often called "BSD-like" because the first occurrence of such a license has been the license under which the Berkeley Software Distribution (one of the first free versions of Unix) was shipped to users.

One should distinguish the original BSD license with its controversial advertising clause from the revised BSD license that does not have the advertising clause.

CC0 Public Domain Dedication

  • Aliases: CC-0, Creative Commons Zero
  • Current version: 1.0


The CERN Open Hardware License (CERN OHL) is a license used in open-source hardware projects (OSHW).

Creative Commons Attribution

Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike

Design Science License

FreeBSD Documentation License

Although especially written for the FreeBSD project, this license shows you how to draft a very simple non-copyleft license for documentation works.

GNU Free Documentation License

Invariant sections

Invariant sections are a special provision of the GFDL which, if used, prevent anyone from modifying the parts of the work which are defined as "invariant". The Free Software Foundation finds it useful to protect some special "non-functional" parts of the work, like a statement of intent (the motivation for invariant sections was, allegedly, to prevent the GNU Manifesto to be removed or modified in GNU documentations).

We believe, however, that freedom should apply to all kind of works, and that what is "functional" in one situation can be "artistic" in another - and vice-versa. Consequently, a work using invariant sections to forbid some kinds of modifications to the work cannot be considered completely free.

Unless additional permissions are granted, all FDL works contain unmodifiable sections which aren't called Invariant Sections, such as a copy of the license embedded in the document itself.

Lizenz für Freie Inhalte

AFAIK only used by the german portal neppstar for free music and video. Anyway, it seems to be a valid free license.

MIT License

This license is arguably the simplest form of the BSD-like licenses for software. All the license, except for the no-warranty statement, is condensed in two short paragraphs.

There are variants, like the current BSD license which has an additional provision forbidding endorsement of derived works using the name of the original authors.

Open Publication License

The Open Publication License (OPL) was among the earliest open-content licenses -- it predates the 2002 GFDL by over 3 years.

The Fedora project selected the OPL for their documentation. (At various times, the Fedora project released their documentation under the GNU FDL, the OPL, and CC-by-SA. See for details).

Open Source Hardware

Open Source Hardware OSHW is apparently "a standard by which to evaluate licenses for hardware designs".

Commentary on non-free licenses