Comparison of Open Source Licenses


There are a wide range of open source / free software licenses which are both popular and widely used. These licenses have much in common but differ from each other in subtle ways.

Key Points

License Comparison:

MIT license BSD License Apache License GNU License
Popular and widely used: Yes Yes Yes Yes
Licence type Permissive Permissive Permissive Strong Copyleft
Jurisdiction: Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified
Grants patent rights No No Yes No
Patent retaliation clause No No Yes No
Specifies enhanced attribution No No No No
Addresses privacy loophole: No No No No
Includes ‘no promotion’ feature Yes Yes Yes Yes

Discussion Questions

1. Why are there so many types of licenses?

2. Who governs the licenses?

3. How can you choose the license type that is best for you?

Additional Resources

Free Software Foundation. (2014). Retrieved from

Berkeley Software Distribution. (2014). Wikipedia. Retrieved from

MIT License. (2014). Open Source Initiative. Retrieved from

Apache License. (2014). Retrieved from

License Differentiator. (2014). OSSWATCH. Retrieved from