How‑to: open license computer code


This posting covers the open licensing of computer code.

The two distinct use‑cases are scripts and applications. Normally scripts are placed under the maximally permissive MIT license. The choice of license for application software, such as energy system modeling frameworks, is more involved. That said, the choice often reduces to the MIT, Apache‑2.0, LGPL‑3.0, and AGPL‑3.0 licenses. Morrison (2018) provides advice on software license choice in the context of open energy system models.

It is necessary to add license notices. The simplest approach is to follow the guidance provided by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) REUSE project (Bakker and Mehl 2019, FSFE 2020).

Useful links


Bakker, Carmen Bianca and Max Mehl (7 August 2019). REUSE makes copyright and licensing easier than ever. Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). Berlin, Germany. Open licensing guidelines for software. Open access.

FSFE (2020). Tutorial: how to become REUSE‑compliant. Free Software Foundation Europe. Berlin, Germany. Creative Commons CC‑BY‑SA‑4.0 license.

Morrison, Robbie (April 2018). “Energy system modeling: public transparency, scientific reproducibility, and open development”. Energy Strategy Reviews. 20: 49–63. ISSN 2211-467X. doi:10.1016/j.esr.2017.12.010. Creative Commons CC‑BY‑4.0 license.

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