Help me choose an open-source license

  • I have a little side project I'm working on, it's a web-based MUD engine using PHP (yes, TRWTF and all that) and MySQL. I have no plans to monetize it, really I'm just messing around and hoping to get a little text-adventure game up on my website for kicks.

    Once it's more-or-less complete, I'd like to release the source code.

    I know very little about open-source licenses other than I refuse to touch anything that's GPL. Basically I want something like "Do whatever the hell you want, just don't rename the game engine or original attribution to me, and don't come crying to me if you break stuff."

    Is there anything like that? Not sure I want to get into making my own license because I'd probably just use the exact phrasing above.


    I'd suggest WTFPL but it has the complete opposite stance on the name change...

  • @Onyx said:

    I'd suggest WTFPL but it has the complete opposite stance on the name change...

    +1 because I have no likes. I could probably actually use that one if I wanted. Would be nice to not lose the name of the game engine, but it's really not a hard and fast requirement.

  • SockDev

    I'd suggest the 3 clause BSD licence.

    Redistribution is fine, forking is fine with appropriate attribution and covers you on the warranty front, as well as covers people trying to use your name to promote their crap.

    If you seriously want to deal with the 'no renaming', you pretty much need to go down the 'no forking' route too.

  • Maybe "no renaming" isn't quite the right phrasing. Really I don't want to lose attribution, so derivative works could be renamed as long as they say "Built on [original name]". And that's just for the engine name. They can name the game itself or its world whatever they want, that's not an issue.

    I'll go read up on the BSD license.

  • SockDev

    Yeah, that's what BSD is about. Copyright must be retained in the source.

  • BSD 3-clause looks about perfect.

    So what's the general rule-of-thumb for including a license? Just sticking it in a license.txt that's included with the source? Or putting it at the top of each and every source file? I've seen it done both ways and don't know if it even matters.

  • SockDev

    Sticking it in the top level folder and mentioning it in the file headers tends to work. SMF does this at the top of all its PHP files:

     * Simple Machines Forum (SMF)
     * @package SMF
     * @author Simple Machines
     * @copyright 2011 Simple Machines
     * @license BSD
     * @version 2.0.8

    You don't need to be nearly quite that verbose though. The deal is primarily to indicate all the relevant details and they were planning on going all phpDocumentor on it.

  • The GNU website has a surprisingly helpful reference guide:

  • I usually use the zlib/libpng license for my smaller stuff, and I just include it at the top of source files.

  • This sounds like you want MIT

    With one of the conditions being the name can't change

  • BSD or even just one sentence explaining it's in the public domain.

    I don't know why you'd care if someone renamed it or removed your attribution if you're not supporting it (to the extent you're telling people to fuck off), you're not making money off it, and it'll probably embarrass you in any business environment ("yes, he did well in the interview, but look what I found under his name... is that... is that a MUD server written in PHP?").

  • Do you want to punish possible GPL developers? 4-clause BSD will do that.

    But seriously, I would only use GPL in a weaponized fashion. x2 if a project I'm working on is "open source" with paid support and said support tells me to go pound sand when I find a bug.

  • I'm actually attributing it to my gamertag name which so far is relatively anonymous so it won't be showing on my resume.

    Punishing GPL developers sounds like fun 😆

  • +1

    Just about everything I run in to on GitHub these days is MIT or one of the BSD variants.

  • The few things I did were Apache v2. Did no significant research. Just googled "best open source license" and picked the one that sounded the coolest. #yolo

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