A free license or open license is a license which allows others to reuse another creator’s work as they wish. Without a special license, these uses are normally prohibited by copyright, patent or commercial license. Most free licenses are worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, and perpetual (see copyright durations). Free licenses are often the basis of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding projects.
The invention of the term "free license" and the focus on the rights of users were connected to the sharing traditions of the hacker culture of the 1970s public domain software ecosystem, the social and political free software movement (since 1980) and the open source movement (since the 1990s). These rights were codified by different groups and organizations for different domains in Free Software Definition, Open Source Definition, Debian Free Software Guidelines, Definition of Free Cultural Works and The Open Definition. These definitions were then transformed into licenses, using the copyright as legal mechanism. Ideas of free/open licenses have since spread into different spheres of society.
Open source, free culture (unified as free and open-source movement), anticopyright, Wikimedia Foundation projects, public domain advocacy groups and pirate parties are connected with free and open licenses.
By type of license
- Public domain licenses
- Permissive licenses
- Copyleft & patentleft licenses
By type of content
- Open-source software
- Open Content
- Open-source hardware
- Open database
- Creative Commons
- Free Software Foundation
- Open Source Initiative
- Open Content Project
- Open Data Commons from Open Knowledge Foundation
- European Union
- Open Definition 2.1 on opendefinition.org "This essential meaning matches that of “open” with respect to software as in the Open Source Definition and is synonymous with “free” or “libre” as in the Free Software Definition and Definition of Free Cultural Works."
- The Open Source Definition
- Kelty, Christpher M. (2018). "The Cultural Significance of free Software - Two Bits" (PDF). Duke University press - durham and london. p. 99.
Prior to 1998, Free Software referred either to the Free Software Foundation (and the watchful, micromanaging eye of Stallman) or to one of thousands of different commercial, avocational, or university-research projects, processes, licenses, and ideologies that had a variety of names: sourceware, freeware, shareware, open software, public domain software, and so on. The term Open Source, by contrast, sought to encompass them all in one movement.
- PDDL 1.0 on opendatacommons.org