Which Open Licence is Right For Me?

May 25, 2010

Choose the statements that describe you and your game. At the end, you’ll have a description of the licence that is right for you (say, DISTRO-ADAPT-BY-CL). Check out the Table of Open Licences on the YOLF Wiki for licences that fit that description.

First Question

My game includes someone else’s copyrighted material (whether open or closed).

You are limited in your choice of licence.

If the other person’s copyrighted material is closed, you must ask their permission before placing any open licence on your work.

If the other person’s copyrighted material is open, you may be obliged to use their open licence instead of your own choice. This depends on the licence, and is too specific to detail here.

Distribution (DISTRO)

I’m happy for people to distribute my work.

Choose a DISTRO licence.

I’m happy for people to modify my work, but I don’t want them distributing the original.

Under most definitions of open licensing, the original work must be open for distribution (at least noncommercially).

Keep in mind that you could release part of your work as open and leave other content closed. That way, your trademarks are protected while the rest is available for distribution.

Adaptation (ADAPT)

I’m happy for people to modify my work.

Choose an ADAPT licence.

I’m happy for people to share my work, but I don’t want them changing it.

For a work to be open, adaptations of it must be allowed.

Keep in mind that you could release part of your work as open and leave other content closed. That way, your trademarks are protected while the rest is available for modification.

Attribution (BY)

I want credit if someone changes my work.

Choose a licence with a BY requirement.

I don’t want to be associated with whatever mess someone makes of my work.

You have three main options here.

Choose a licence without a BY requirement. These come in two forms; licences that forbid attribution and those that simply do not require it.

Choose a licence with a BY and specifically request no attribution. I doubt this is legally binding.

Use the Open Game License. Attribution is forbidden except in the Open Game License’s Section 15, and you decide what your game’s Section 15 entry is.

Copyleft (CL)

If someone changes or shares my work, their work should be open too.

Choose a licence with a CL requirement.

If someone changes or shares my work, they should be free to keep it closed if they like.

Choose a licence without a CL requirement.

Noncommercial (NONCOM)

People that share or change my work shouldn’t be charging for it.

Choose a licence with a NONCOM requirement.

If someone can profit off my work, good luck to them!

Choose a licence without a NONCOM requirement.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

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One Response to “Which Open Licence is Right For Me?”


  1. […] YOLF Blog Post: How to choose the right open licence for your game (read it here). […]


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