BSD and Other Software Licences

Software Licensing

Many organisations creating and analysing data use specialised software.  Sometimes organisations create their own software because the functionalities they need are not available in 'off-the-shelf' software.  Organisations publishing data that is either created or analysed with specialised software may also choose to make the associated software available to the community on open terms.  This serves to ensure that the data, or analysis of the data by the community will be accurate.  It may also assist the community to confirm the results of the organisations analysis. 

Whilst its possible to license software under a Creative Commons licence, it is not recommended.  

ab initio Development

If your organisation is publishing software developed without the inclusion of software from any external source, AusGOAL recommends the  BSD 3-Clause Software Licence.  It provides permissions akin to the CC Attribution Licence, and being one of the Open Software Foundation recommended licences, is well recognised within the open software community. Software licensed under the BSD Licence can be incorporated onto other open source projects, including those licensed under the GPL and Apache Licences.  However, GPL licensed software cannot be incorporated into software licensed under the BSD Licence.

The text of the BSD 3-Clause Licence is set out below.

Copyright (c)  [year] [copyright holder]
All rights reserved.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:
    * Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
      notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
    * Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
      notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
      documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
    * Neither [copyright holder] nor the names of its contributors may be
      used to endorse or promote products derived from this software
      without specific prior written permission.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS "AS IS" AND
ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE
DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY
DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES
(INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES;
LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND
ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT
(INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS
SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

Publishing Modified Open Source Software

If your organisation is publishing software that incorporates elements from other open source software projects, such as a project licensed under a GPL Licence, AusGOAL recommends application of the same licence under which you obtained third party code.  The most popular of these licences are likely to be the GNU GPL Version 3 Licence, or its more liberal version, the GNU Lesser GPL  Version 3

Further Reading

The Australian Government Department of Finance and Deregulation website on Open Source Software includes a number of other resources that may be of further interest.