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Posted (edited)

Hey everyone,

we want to publish our software at GitHub but as we have spend a lot of work and thoughts into it, I don't want to take anything like ZLIB, MIT, or any other "yeah we made the work but feel free to earn an ass of money with it"-kind of license. And as there is no software or service our code has to be used with, this might be a problem.

We itend, as we are a small team and everyone also has a real-life calling frequently, that this could help getting more and foremost better contributors into our project for letting those people look at the complexity before they try to contribute to us. Also this will reduce server and administration costs for us to simply have people fork the code and make pull requests.

I already digged through the mass of licenses at

but they all have a drawback, commercial use is always allowed. I'm looking for a license that covers 3 points:

  • Our intellectuel property and rights are protected and includes also the usuall disclaimer
  • Everyone is allowed to use the software without commercial background
  • Changes made can be reintegrated into our reposetory regardless of rights, porperty or patents of the contributor and we are allowed to sublicense (maybe for commercial use) our software including that changes without any drawbacks

Does anyone know about such a license (I might have overseen on my research) or do we have to pick money in the end to get a license made from a lawyer?

Edited by Shaarigan

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but they all have a drawback, commercial use is always allowed.


Well, of course, because that's part of the definition of both libre software and open source. They're not exactly going to recommend licenses that don't fit their respective definitions.

If I may be frank, a Communist software license probably wouldn't attract many contributors. I can't say I understand your goal; you want to suppress commercial contributions because you don't want to deal with pull requests? Why not just ignore the forks if you can't be bothered with them? No one is forcing you to pull in external changes.

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I'm not against contributions in any form, I'm against people selling/using our work in their commercial projects, so we want to prohibit commercial use, that is the only point. On the other side we want to keep sublicensing open as an option for us to have people make money with our work under different terms

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The non-commercial point will be the most difficult of the three, followed by you being able to incorporate all changes for your own commercial gain.

The Creative Commons Non-Commercial licenses are probably the closest premade templates available, you'll want to consult with a proper lawyer for your own.

It seems disrespectful to me that you forbid others from commercial use, but if they work on it they must grant you the ability for commercial use.  You can license it however you wish, but if I were looking at a list of software, that non-standard licensing point would make me immediately skip over yours and move to a more common F/OSS recognized license.

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, frob said:

It seems disrespectful to me that you forbid others from commercial use, but if they work on it they must grant you the ability for commercial use.

I agree with your statement!

The other way round it is also disrespectful to us when people taking our work we invested time and money and throw it out with their own sticker on top to earn money without even granting us some support for what we do. We also have expenses like a running Server or life costs that we spend working in another job to pay for, even monitoring any code commits from contributors takes time we have to take from anywhere else as the hours a day are not expandable over the all-day-job, family and biological needs.

I'm not the greedy one that lets the community develop their product just to sell it for selling it, the model I'm targeting is anyone can take it for free to do whatever he/she likes on top, thats totally fine but if someone develops on top of it and makes some money above certain cut, then he/she should give us something back, a small share, a donation, whatever so we could pay some of our bills and go further in development.

But as the world is not perfect and opeople are getting selfish more and more these days, this shouldn't be a nice to have feature, it should be an agreement

Edited by Shaarigan

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The other way round it is also disrespectful to us when people taking our work we invested time and money and throw it out with their own sticker on top to earn money without even granting us some support for what we do.


If you're referring to when a company takes a permissively licensed program and derives a proprietary version, that's what copyleft is for. Use the GNU GPL, GNU AGPL, or GNU LGPL depending on your needs. This has nothing whatsoever to do with commercial exploitation.

Take a look at Linux. Companies that use Linux contribute to its development all the time, because the copyleft license it's under (the GNU GPL) doesn't allow them to release proprietary versions. So their best bet is to just contribute back, and that's what they do.

We also have expenses like a running Server or life costs that we spend working in another job to pay for, even monitoring any code commits from contributors takes time we have to take from anywhere else as the hours a day are not expandable over the all-day-job, family and biological needs.


If you're running a server, charge for the use of it. Simple as that.

As for "monitoring any code commits", if that's such a burden for you, just ignore them. You can't eat your cake and have it too; if you want others to contribute, you have to pull those contributions. You can't just expect to gain something for nothing. And yet, thanks to Git, it's not even that hard.

I'm not the greedy one that lets the community develop their product just to sell it for selling it, the model I'm targeting is anyone can take it for free to do whatever he/she likes on top, thats totally fine but if someone develops on top of it and makes some money above certain cut, then he/she should give us something back, a small share, a donation, whatever so we could pay some of our bills and go further in development.



It sure sounds greedy to me, but I have nothing against greed. By all means, turn a profit. But it's hypocritical to write Communist software for a profit. If you want to forbid commercial exploitation, don't commercially exploit it.

You keep appealing to your personal needs, as if that was an argument for hypocrisy. I don't see how it is.

And what's more, it's not going to work how you are imagining. What you are proposing is a proprietary program, and you will almost certainly develop it entirely on your own, just like any other proprietary program. Companies certainly aren't going to contribute to software they have to pay for, so you're not going to get any contributions from them. And everyday hackers like me? We're completely turned off by restrictive licenses such as what you propose, so you'll get nothing from us. Except for the Communists, but Communists will be turned off by the fact that you're turning a profit. Overall, what you're proposing is a total lose-lose situation on all fronts.

If you want to make money from developing libre software, you need to either join an established business (that's the easy route), or set up your own business, work very smart and very hard, and hope it works out (because, yeah, starting a business is a highly risky endeavor). There is no license that can magically give you a profitable business doing exactly what you want to do.

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