An insight into license tools for open source software systems

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Citation: Georgia M. Kapitsaki, Nikolaos D. Tselikas, Ioannis E. Foukarakis (2014) An insight into license tools for open source software systems. The Journal of Systems & Software (RSS)

doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2014.12.050

Tagged: open source licenses (RSS), open source compliance (RSS), open source license compatibility (RSS)


"The contribution of our work lies in the introduction of these metrics for license assistive tools as well as in the overview and comparison of existing tools along with an approach towards the formalization of the license compatibilities problem."

Authors write about 3 types of tools:

  1. License data identification
  2. License data in code repositories
  3. License meta-models and reasoners

Various ways of characterizing [in]compatibility described, including directed compatibility graphs and modeling of the terms of licenses.

A comparison table is provided with various implementations of the 3 types of tools' metrics (not every metric is applicable to every type):

  • Qualitative
    • License information and license conflicts
      • License information detection provision
      • License conflict detection provision
      • Multi-licensing support (covers software with dual-licensing and above)
    • Tool approach
      • Tool availability
      • Automatic license model/graph construction
    • Linkage to legal issues
      • License legal text consideration
  • Quantitative
    • Application to all open source licenses
      • Number of supported licenses

Quote: "The tool that seems to have a better performance based on our analysis is coming from the identification tools, although it can be regarded a hybrid approach, since it also contains a public repository: FOSSology. The advantages of FOSSology are that it covers a wide variety of licenses (360 in total) and that it provides an extended set of accompanying tools at a mature level of implementation."