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Free Software Licensing Resources

by Brett Smith Contributions Published on Nov 06, 2006 02:16 PM
Learn more about free software licenses and related issues.

Whether you're a new user who wants to learn more about the GNU GPL, or a developer curious about how a license affects you, we have a number of resources to help you find the information you're looking for.

The GNU licenses

The following licenses are published by the Free Software Foundation:

Answers to common questions

If you have a particular question about a free software license, there's a good chance you'll find an answer on one of the pages below. These resources are primarily aimed at developers and users who are especially interested in licensing issues.

  • The GPL Howto explains how you can release the software you write under a GNU license. If you're about to publish a new program, just follow this step-by-step guide.
  • The GNU license FAQ lists many common questions about GNU licenses, and provides answers which are clear and concise.
  • A Quick Guide to GPLv3 explains the new features of the latest version of the GPL, and how they benefit people developing and distributing GPLv3-covered software.
  • Our list of licenses offers basic information about many common software licenses, such as whether or not it's a free software license, and if it's GPL-compatible. It also includes licenses for related materials such as documentation and general data.
  • We've published instructions for reporting license violations. Please follow these steps if you think you've found a violation of any free software license.

Speeches and seminars

We occasionally give speeches about special topics, and conduct seminars to provide a comprehensive review of a particular license or issue. Check the FSF Events page to see what's on our calendar. If you'd like to arrange a talk for your organization, please contact us.


The Compliance Lab blog reports news of interest to licensing wonks, and provides background about the work we're doing. Let us know if you've found an issue we should be talking about.

Answers by email

If none of this information has answered your question, don't despair -- just write us and we'll be happy to answer it. For developers of proprietary software, we also offer paid support. All you have to do is send an email to, and we'll be in touch.

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