Licenses for software

Downloads you buy or sell on Distribly come with a license. As a seller, you need to use a license which contains the rights you want to grant or not grant to buyers of your product. Because of the many different licenses available for software, and the various requirements of the many types of software, Distribly lets you choose your own license, which can be added as a custom license.

Adding your license

Whether you use your own license, one of the ones mentioned below, or link to a license URL, it must be added as a Custom license. This is as simple as copying your license text or links into the box provided on the product creation page.

See how to add a custom license

Choosing the right license

There are two main types of software license: those for free-to-use software, which also need to include licenses for any documentation; and those for proprietary software.

Once you decide whether you want your software to be free-to-use or proprietary, you can search for a license which offers the conditions you wish to distribute your software under. For more information about which license you should use, click the link below.

Which license should I use?

Proprietary software

Proprietary software is licensed by the copyright holder. The software can be used under certain conditions, and things such as modification, further distribution, or reverse engineering are not normally allowed. Proprietary software is often distributed with an End User License Agreement, or, EULA. If you have an EULA for your product, you can attach it as a custom license on Distribly.

Free-to-use software

Free-to-use means the software can be run, copied, distributed, studied, or changed. Free-to-use software can also be given away at no cost, or sold for profit. If you only want to sell software that others can use, without letting them modify or resell, then you should use a proprietary license.

There are many free-to-use software license alternatives, offering varying degrees of freedom. The most popular are GNU licenses, which are explained below. There are also other free-to-use software licenses, offering different rights for users, available to use online.

GNU licenses

GNU licenses are for the distribution of free-to-use software. This doesn't mean free as in selling it for no cost, rather free in the sense that users have the freedom use and change the software. GNU licenses don't prevent you from selling free-to-use software for a profit. If you don't want people to be able to modify your product and resell it, or even resell it without changing it at all, then you should use your own proprietary license.

An important aspect of GNU licenses is that they require the same freedoms to be passed on with the software in its modified forms. So the GNU license must be passed on along with the product in an unaltered state. If this doesn't suit the needs of your software, then there are many alternative licenses available.

To ensure the most up to date versions of GNU licenses are used, you can reference GNU licenses directly from their website, by pasting a link to the license into your Distribly custom license.

GNU General Public License - GNU GPL

This license is used by over half of all free-to-use software packages:

  • Users can run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software
  • The GNU GPL must be made available to anyone who receives a copy of the software or work derived from the software
  • The GNU GPL license must be made available in an unchanged form.

Read the full license text for a thorough explanation of how the product can be used.

GNU Lesser General Public License - GNU LGPL

This license is used when your software is a library:

  • Users can run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software
  • The software can be used with proprietary programs
  • The GNU LGPL must be made available to anyone who receives a copy of the software or work derived from the software
  • Proprietary software is not considered to be a derivative when it only references the library
  • The GNU LGPL license must be made available in an unchanged form.

Read the full license text for a thorough explanation of how the product can be used.

GNU Affero General Public License - GNU AGPL

This license is used if your software is to be used over web services or a computer network:

  • Users can run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software
  • The GNU AGPL must be made available to anyone who receives a copy of the software or work derived from the software
  • The GNU AGPL license must be made available in an unchanged form.

Read the full license text for a thorough explanation of how the product can be used.

Licenses for documentation

When you include extra documentation with your software, it needs a separate license in addition to the license for the software. Adding multiple licenses is easy, for example: if you have software with a manual and a "Readme" file, you can simply copy the links to the three licenses into your Distribly custom license.

GNU Free Documentation License - GNU FDL

This license is used for manuals, textbooks, or other reference and instruction materials included with your software:

  • If significant amounts of code are included in the instructions, a GNU GPL is required for the extra code examples
  • The GNU FDL must be made available to anyone who receives a copy of the software or work derived from the software
  • The GNU FDL license must be made available in an unchanged form.

Read the full license text for a thorough explanation of how the product can be used.

License note for other files

This short license text is used for "Readme", or other additional text files, if you choose to include them with your software. It is an all-permissive license with a warranty disclaimer.

Read the full license text for a full explanation of how the product can be used.

Other free-to-use software licenses

In addition to the various GNU licenses, there are other free-to-use software licenses which grant slightly different rights.

Creative commons

Creative commons offers a variety of licenses which are suitable for the distribution of software. They also have a license selector to help you make your decision if you are unsure which license you want to use. To see what they have to offer, visit the Creative commons website:

Find out more about Creative commons' licenses

Apache license 2.0

This is a popular generic free-to-use software license:

  • Users can run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software
  • The Apache License 2.0 doesn't need to be passed on with the software or work derived from the software
  • Any original copyright, patent, trademark, and attribution notices in redistributed code must be preserved
  • A notification must be added to licensed files that are changed, stating that changes have been made to that file
  • The Apache License 2.0 is compatible with the GNU GPL.

Read the full license text for a thorough explanation of how the product can be used.

More specific licenses

There are a multitude of different licenses out there, some are more permissive that others. Some are also targeted at specific types of software. For a good overview of a wide variety of licenses, the GNU website has complied a comprehensive list.

Find out more about other licenses

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