Identifying existing project licences and choosing a licence for new projects can be a complex task, especially for newcomers to FLOSS creation. Luckily, there are several tools that can assist in the process. PROSE (Promoting Open Source in European Projects) not only provides a hosting area for your code but also offers some guidance on open source licences and the need to have a licence.
In the spirit of FLOSS, the project has utilised existing information to build guidance for projects. Our review of the tools available came up with some interesting output as to what might already be available in the market place.
Recognizing Licensed Software
If your project has code or is using existing code, but you are not sure whether that code is already licensed on a FLOSS basis there are audit type tools available for free as well as the likes of Black Duck Software on a paid for basis. The tools we found which will assist in analysing whether any FLOSS licences are present and possibly also identify the licence on which that code is distributed, include:
Choosing a Licence
Our platform is aimed at Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Projects and encourages projects which wish to disseminate their code on a FLOSS basis, to choose a licence. Without a licence third parties may be uncomfortable in using code, as they will not know what rights they have in the code or have certainty as to how they may use the code. A licence will set out the ways that third parties may use the code and give them clarity as to the obligations they have by using it.
For many projects, without the benefit of a lawyer this can be confusing. Ideally if the Project has specific questions they should take legal advice, but if they want some general guidance there are existing tools that may also assist and Projects can use our Licence document to gather some understanding of their options.
Support Licence Selection for European Projects
However, we feel that these tools, whilst very useful may not fully cover the considerations of an ICT Project and as part of our Project Deliverables we are building an App which will allow Projects to answer the appropriate questions such as whether they own the code, wish to give a patent licence, whether the code may be re-used on any basis or only with the same licence, to help them to get to a choice of the licence they should use for their Project.
That App – the PROSE Licence Chooser – should be available within the PROSE Platform and also through App stores and Market Places, by late this Spring. The App itself will be licensed on a combination of a FLOSS licence and Creative Commons, so the App will be open to further improvement, enhancement and re-utilisation by the Open Community.