NPO Developers License

Bruce Perens bruce at
Thu Apr 28 04:01:16 UTC 2005

The parameters that OSI uses to define acceptable Open Source licensing
were developed for the Debian project and the GNU/Linux CD that it
distributes. Debian's corporation, Software in the Public Interest,
holds IRS 501(c)3 status and is incorporated as an educational
non-profit in New York state.

We don't sell our copyrights for profit, and that is the real donated
resource. People sometimes sell compilations containing copies of our
work. You can make any number of copies, of course, without depleting
any resource other than disk space.

We've gone over this with counsel, as have a number of similar



 Don Cameron wrote:

>Hoping this question is appropriate for this forum.
>I am seeking a license suitable for a group of Non-Profits wishing to
>develop and distribute software. The license should allow access to, and
>modification of the source and prohibit reselling of original or modified
>derivatives. This is to comply with NPO constitutional requirements that:
>"donated products or merchandise must not be resold for profit". For the
>purpose of distribution, all software developed would be deemed "a donated
>Is there such a license approved by OSI? I am unsure if a license that
>prevents reselling  qualifies as Open Source - my reading of the OSI web
>suggests that only licenses empowering for-profit redistribution
>(commercial) are approved. 
>If the license we need is not available or cannot be written and approved as
>Open Source, maybe we need an envelope distribution license preventing
>reselling that sits above and supplants any developmental license conditions
>- any advice on ways to achieve this objective are appreciated.

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