A Quick Guide to Software Licensing for the Scientist-Programmer

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Citation: Andrew Morin, Jennifer Urban, Piotr Sliz (2012/07/26) A Quick Guide to Software Licensing for the Scientist-Programmer. PLOS Computational Biology (RSS)

doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002598

Download: http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002598

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Summary:

"primer on software licensing with a focus on the particular needs of the scientist software developer. The aim of this guide is to help scientists better engage with their institutional TTO when choosing software licenses."

Authors define and provide examples of common terminology including proprietary, free and open, permissive, copyleft, open source, closed source, proliferation, multi-licensing, and compatibility. For the last they note the directionality of license compatibility and provide a useful diagram.

A very brief guide to choosing a license based on what one wants:

  • widest possible adoption: permissive
  • assure future openness: copyleft
  • proprietary business while leveraging open source: multi-licensing
  • maximum control: proprietary

Authors recommend contacting your TTO to apply a license.

Complication of software patents briefly described.

Conclude noting the consistency of open source licensing and the open culture of science.