Open Source Licensing
The Faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible.
MIT faculty adopted an Open Access Policy in 2009. In keeping with this policy, the TLO has worked with MIT faculty and the Office of General Counsel (OGC) to identify ideal licenses to use when releasing MIT-owned copyright through open source.
- MIT Libraries Open Access Policies
- MIT Open Access Task Force
- Open Source Software FAQ (Coming Soon)
- MIT GitHub
- Open Source Initiative Source of information regarding Open Source Licenses, Communities, and Education
- Choosealicense Reference chart of many Open Source license types and common permissions
- TL; DR Legal—software licenses presented in plain, easy-to-comprehend language.
- DoD Open Source Software FAQ Good resource for Open Source and government funded projects.
The MIT Technology Licensing Office is supportive of requests from MIT faculty and staff regarding distributing software via open source licenses, without fee or royalty!
Working with the TLO for Open Source Releases:
- Before choosing to distribute via open source, the authors should confirm that any sponsors of the software will agree to an open source distribution model.
- The authors must complete the MIT Software Disclosure Form for any software that is to be released under an open-source license.
- The TLO will confirm there is not an active sponsored research grant that would prevent such distribution and that such distribution has been approved by the head of the relevant department, laboratory, or center.
- If the software contains other “open source” software, or any software that was downloaded, used, copied, linked, or provided by a third party, authors must identify these codes and their licenses and work with the TLO to understand the license terms under which that software has been provided. Certain license terms have specific restrictions, and certain open source licenses are untenable for MIT to use. The TLO can assist the author with understanding these terms and finding suitable open source licenses.
- Once third party rights, if any, are resolved, there are numerous open source license models from which to choose. The TLO will discuss open source licensing strategies with the authors.
Recommendations for Popular Software Licenses
- 3-clause BSD license (BSD-3-Clause)
- GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) (as required by other licenses)
Once the TLO has approved release of the software via an open source license, you may then post or distribute your software under such open source license. It is up to you to read the instructions related to the specific license and to provide the appropriate copyright/license text with your postings. Please keep the TLO informed of the website URL at which your software is posted.