Jason
235 posts
Edited by Jason on Reason: Initial post
I had a quick question for anyone who might know any of the legal issues surrounding software. It is my understanding that all software, once created, is automatically covered under the US copyright act meaning your code cannot be copied or used in a commercial product without your explicit consent. Then there are software licenses which explain the terms in which users can use and distribute your code. My question is:

1.) How does one go about creating a software license? Is there a certain official legal process to setup a license or can you just put up a statement online of how to use your license and then anyone can use your license and be protected according to it's stated rules? I know Casey has a txt file in his project folder that you download and on the text file it describes his license terms. Is this enough to be considered legally binding?
45 posts
Edited by NelsonMandella on
boagz57
It is my understanding that all software, once created, is automatically covered under the US copyright act meaning your code cannot be copied or used in a commercial product without your explicit consent.

Here's a program, do you think it's protectable in theory under any copyright law?

 1 2 3 4 void main() { printf("adhjkl3892hjkajdas829\n"); } 

...now I'm no software copyright expert but I'm pretty sure it's not.

Practically speaking as an individual, think of a license as a means of discouragement rather than as some kind of legal contract.
Mārtiņš Možeiko
2452 posts / 2 projects
Edited by Mārtiņš Možeiko on
boagz57
can you just put up a statement online of how to use your license and then anyone can use your license and be protected according to it's stated rules?

Yes, that is exactly what you need to do.

Be aware that you cannot put arbitrary text and hope it will hold up in the court. If its in violation with other laws (which may be very different in different countries) or is just pure nonsense ("author can use this software only if she/he does not drink milk") - nobody will care about your license. That is why you typically want a lawyer to create and/or check your license.

That said, if all you want is to have open-source software, usually you just pick one of existing licenses that fit your use case. Here are page that helps you to do that: https://choosealicense.com/
Jason
235 posts