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You are here: Home Blogs Licensing Licensing resource series: How to choose a license for your own work

Licensing resource series: How to choose a license for your own work

by Donald Robertson Contributions Published on Oct 27, 2016 02:11 PM
This is the latest installment in the Free Software Foundation's Licensing & Compliance Lab's series highlighting licensing resources.

We provide plenty of resources when it comes to picking a license. From our list of licenses to essays on copyleft, if you are looking to figure out what license is right for you there is plenty of information to rely upon. But this month's resource helps to pull that information together in one place to make selecting a license simple.

Our guide, "How to choose a license for your work" is one stop browsing for answering many of the questions you may have when it comes to finding the right license. It provides recommendations based on the state of the work, but also based on the type of work that it is. While the Affero GNU General Public License version 3 works great for server software, documentation would probably be better served with a license directed at such, like the GNU Free Documentation License version 1.3. Smaller works can often get away without a strong copyleft, but still need to address patents, and so Apache License version 2.0 might be appropriate. The guide explains the reasoning behind the different recommendation for these and more. It also links to all those other resources mentioned above in case you need to dive in deeper when picking out a license.

Choosing a license isn't always the easiest decision, but it can be one of the most important ones you make when starting out your project. The license is the document that grants users the freedoms outlined in the free software definition. Without a license (or the right license), users won't have the ability to study, share, and modify your work, so choose wisely. This guide should make it easy to pick the right one for you, but if you need a little extra help, you can always contact the licensing and compliance team here at the FSF by emailing

We hope you'll take a look at our guide the next time you start up a project, or that you'll review it right now if your current project is without a license! Resources like "How to choose a license for your own work" are made possible thanks to the users who support our work, here's what you can do to help:

Enjoy this article? Check out our previous entry on Free GNU/Linux distributions & GNU Bucks

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