Open source software

Posted on 26th July 2020

For various reasons relating to I have ended up down a rabbit-hole of trying to understand Open Source Software Licenses, and related ideas, like Creative Commons. These are some notes for my own memory if nothing else.

Creative commons

  • The ShareAlike clause is quite restrictive. The key point is to interpret what "adapted material" might mean, and as the link indicates, this can be hard. This means that work licenses under SA might well be hard to use in any form, which might be unintended by the creator.
  • Similarly No Derivatives is rather restrictive, for essentially the same reason.


Having spent ages reading about this, I am now not sure what to write. Wikipedia page. Pay attention to the "viral" nature of the license (I know that term is often used in a derogatory manner, but it is headline grabbing, and it is important to be aware of).


I asked a Question on StackExchange: Open Source. I am not a lawyer, but the following is my understanding:

  • With GPL3 or CC-SA (etc.) you are on very shaky grounds using a template licensed under one of these. Probably the output work (even a PDF generated by PDFLaTeX, though this is a debate) is also licensed under the same license.

  • I am not aware of an Open Source License which is well-adapted to templates. I would guess that in many cases, the author of template actually wants:

    1. Someone producing a work based on the template to have full copyright of that work;
    2. Someone producing another template to be bound by the license

    Of course, I can also see how writing a legal document which made clear this distinction could be hard. For low-level work which you yourself have produced, you are of course free to use CC-SA (or whatever) and also add a provision that a work based on the template is not so licensed.

  • Javascript and GPL seems like a nightmare.

Recent posts