Why Your Software Need an Open Source License

So, let’s say you built an app. The next Microsoft. Maybe the next Facebook. Let’s say you are a good person and you want to make it free and open source. You consider it an act of philanthropy. You don’t want any profit, you don’t care as long as people use it, develop it, fork it, etc.

People advise you that it is a good idea to choose a license (it looks like MIT is the best option in your case) and apply it if you want your project to stay open source. You try to apply the license to the project and it looks like a lot of work- you have to modify the license and then save it with the project, maybe even with every file in the project.

Then, you might ask yourself, why do I even need a license? If my project is publicly available on GitHub, they can do whatever they want with it, right? Having no license is like having an MIT license, right?

Well, in that case, expect to have no one contribute to your project. This is because the US copyright law says any work will be applied the copyright as soon as it is created. The official government guidelines state, “Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” This applies to the code you wrote, as well.

So, anyone who forks your project and tries to develop something else using it will be committing a crime. That is unless you give explicit permission allowing others to freely use your code. This is where open-source licenses come in.

Be nice to licenses. Apply them if you want your project to be actually open-source.

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