Simon Willison’s Weblog

Open source license help needed

Every now and then, I get an e-mail asking me to clarify the license associated with code that I’ve posted on this site, such as my date parsing script. I’m looking for an open source license that I can start slapping on things to ensure people that they can use it for whatever they want, but wading through the list of licenses is no fun at all. Here are the features I’m looking for:

  • Minimal boiler-plate. I don’t want to have to copy and paste dozens of lines of legalese in to a 30 line long example script; my ideal license would allow me to “link it in” in a single line (“(c) Simon Willison 2004, released under [X] license”).
  • Allows commercial use. I don’t care if people make money off something I’ve published here.
  • Encourages attribution. I don’t want people feeling they have to credit me if they reuse five lines of Python I posted as an example somewhere, but I’m not averse to getting credited for more substantial contributions. I don’t want to make attribution a requirement though as I’d rather people used my code and failed to attribute me than didn’t use it at all.
  • Is compatible with other licenses. I often get asked if people can include my code in other open source projects—whatever license I use needs not to get in the way of other people’s licensing aims for their own projects.

I’m tempted to just slap a note saying “this code is in the public domain” on everything and have done, but I’m not sure if there are unpleasant side effects to doing so. The only thing I want to avoid is people explicitly claiming my work as their own.

This is Open source license help needed by Simon Willison, posted on 5th November 2004.

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Previously hosted at http://simon.incutio.com/archive/2004/11/05/licensing