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Journal of Information Science and Engineering, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 1-17 (January 2006)

Open Source Licenses and the Creative Commons Framework: License Selection and Comparison

Yi-Hsuan Lin, Tung-Mei Ko, Tyng-Ruey Chuang and Kwei-Jay Lin*
Institute of Information Science
Academia Sinica
Nankang, 115 Taipei
*Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-2625, U.S.A.

Numerous licenses confuse new participants in the free/open source software (FOSS) world. In this paper, we provide a general introduction to eleven commonly-used FOSS licenses. By applying seven specific considerations that are proposed in our study, developers can identify which license suits their needs best. We further use the above considerations to rank these FOSS licenses, which are Open Source Initiative (OSI)-aproved, in terms of their degree of openness. The recently established Creative Commons (CC), based on FOSS concepts, provides yet another clean model for licensing creative works. We attempt to use the CC licensing model to analyze FOSS licenses, so that new participants can better understand these licenses. By examining these FOSS licenses with CCs four differentiating elements (attribution; noncommercial; no derivative works; share alike), we construct a table with which new participants could understand FOSS and the above categories with the knowledge of the CC licensing model. We also rank these licenses based on CCs differentiating elements and offer a different approach to examine the openness of FOSS licenses.

Keywords: free software, open source, FOSS, program, license, copy, copyleft, Creative Commons, copyright

Full Text () Retrieve PDF document (200601_01.pdf)

Received June 6, 2005; revised September 30, 2005; accepted October 10, 2005.
Communicated by Kwei-Jay Lin.