Yet another 'What License Is Best For Me?'

David Favro at
Wed Jan 17 11:19:04 UTC 2007

Hello all,

I am sorry to throw out another "Which License Is Best For Me" question,
I did review the archives and I can see that the list gets these on a
very regular basis, but the problem for me, like for most inquirers, is
that everyone's situation is a little different.

In my case, I am a software developer, very experienced in writing
custom and proprietary software, having used OSS for nearly two decades,
but only having contributed small amounts of OSS work.  I am now working
on a variety of softwares that I would like to release as open-source,
but under a license that is less than 100% free (I want to deny
licensees the freedom to sell my software without contributing some of
the profits to me).  In other words, it would be dual-licensed, at your

1. Open-source (or shared-source or tyrannically-non-free or whatever
you call this):
    * You can use it: in a commerical or non-commercial setting
    * You can distribute it: but you must make available the source
    * You can modify it: but you must retain attribution and if you
distribute the modifications, you must make the source to them also

So far, I think this is not too unusual, but:
    * You can *not* sell it: I include charging a "distribution fee,"
however nominal, as selling, and I include derived works, programs
linked with my libraries, etc.

2. Commercial license, you can sell it but a small negotiated royalty
per license would be returned to me.

I guess that the commercial license shouldn't be a problem, but it's the
open-source one that I need help with.  It's not that I want to sell the
software, nor that think that others are clamoring to profit from it,
and please excuse me for denying users their rights, but I simply feel
that all my life I have made many corporations a lot of money through my
hard work, and while they have paid me, they made a lot more than me,
and mostly what I got was repetitive motion injury.  Now in this case, I
don't want to take any risk, however small, that it happens again,
without them returning a little to me.

So, I started looking for license resources and have found a number of
lists of licenses on the web, including's, but they seem
to be mostly just lists, without giving much summary information about
what is unique about each license, so my only option is to read each
license, try to parse the legalese, and see which one comes closest to
what I am seeking -- which is a daunting task, considering the number of
OSS licenses floating around.  I wish there was a sort of matrix around,
with licenses down the side and columns with checkmarks like,
"GPL-compatible," "Copyleft", "Allows Commercial Use," etc... but I did
not find it.

I wrote to the Software Freedom Law Center
(, but they responded to me that denying
others the right to sell my software without returning a portion of the
profits to me makes it non-free software, and they don't help people who
write non-free software, so they refused to help me, not even to
recommend other resources that would be of help.  (I personally find
this a bit of an arbitrary and capricious definition of 'free' since
even the GPL places some restrictions on what the licensee can and can't
do with the software, so I don't see how it is so easy to draw a
black-and-white line that giving one set of rights constitutes granting
'freedom' to the licensee while some other set of rights is proprietary.)

So, I wonder, does anyone here know of such a license, or of a similar
one that I could easily modify to match my goals?  I must believe that
someone else also uses this kind of license.

Thanks In Advance,
David Favro

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