The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Quick Guide to Software Licensing and Open Source

Welcome to the TTO’s Software Licensing and Open Source resource page! This guide and accompanying Open Source Primer are designed to serve a range of audiences on campus, from those looking for quick, high-level guidance about their software licensing options to those seeking more in-depth information. While the University of Massachusetts owns the copyright to software that is developed in the course of University research, the University allows the faculty to distribute their software as they see fit, from commercial licensing to Open Source licensing. If you are considering an Open Source license, or your software contains Open Source code, we strongly urge you to review our Open Source Primer.

This front page serves as a quick guide to a range of licenses you may want to apply to your software, depending on your goals. The five licenses in the table below are arranged from left to right based on the author’s retained rights, with the Simple Permission license retaining the most rights and the GPL v3 the fewest. These five licenses should cover most situations; however, please reach out to us should none fit your needs, if you have any questions about them, or if you are interested in a commercial license.

If you decide one of these five licenses is suitable, download our License Template form. To apply the license to your work, complete the form by checking the box next to the appropriate license. Then save a copy of the form and name it “[Insert Your Software Name] License.” This [Insert Your Software Name] License file should be placed in the top directory of your distribution. The License Template also includes links to the full texts for the five licenses. Our Open Source Primer discusses them in more detail.

Software licensing, particularly Open Source, is a highly active and evolving area, and a great source of confusion and misconception within the academic community. We are here to help walk you through it! We encourage members of the UMass Amherst community to get in touch with us with any questions they have about software licensing.