Teams/LegalNetwork/Glossary of FOSS Legal terms


This glossary covers legal and technical terms related to open licensing.

Target audience and scope

This glossary is intended for attorneys new to open source work, such as those who might be newly hired into a legal team at a company that uses open source development, or those taking legal education on the subject. It should also be useful for lay people seeking to understand open licensing.

No one choice of law is assumed although national issues are highlighted where necessary.  The glossary draws mostly on legal doctrines from the US, Europe, and Germany.

Defined terms

- commit:  (see also revision control)

- compatible: two or more licenses for which is is possible to simultaneously

- compile

- compiled language: as opposed to interpreted language; also see compile)

- computer program: defined under copyright law as a form of literary work ..

- condition: an obligation that must be met in order to have a copyright

- contribute: to submit code for inclusion in a free and open software project

- contribution: software code that has been submitted to a free and open

- covenant: an obigation of a free and open source software agreement that is

- convey: see distribute

- copyleft: [TKTK] Different copyleft licenses may have different scopes- see

- crayonware license: derogatory term for poorly-written licenses.

- DCO: Developer Certificate of Origin. The document found at

- defensive termination: Licensor's right to terminate the grant of certain

- derivative: a term used in software license; important to consider when

- derivative work: a term defined in U.S. copyright law in 17 U.S.C. s. 101.

- distro: short for "Linux distribution"; a specific collection of operating

- distribute

- downstream: subjects lower in the supply chain

- dynamic linking (or shared library mechanism): see compile

- exception (or additional permission)

- executable vs binary vs source code: source code is code that is written in

- fork: see also <>

- Free Software: software that meets the Four Freedoms

- proprietary / non-FOSS: a term used to refer to the category of licenses

- Free Software Foundation (FSF) 

- Four Freedoms: the criteria for assessing whether a particular codebase

- free (libre) and open source software license (FOSS/FLOSS): a term that is

- header: confusion between the header of the (source code) file, where a good

- header-only library: a library implemented (declared and defined) solely as

- implement: to write software logic (code?) to perform processing to meet the

- inbound license:

- inbound license conditions: [conceptually different from an "inbound

- inbound=outbound: a practice/convention/doctrine [I don't know which/Robbie]

- interface definitions

- issue and issue tracker

- kernel: 

- library: 

- libre: used sometimes in place of "free" to distinguish between

- linker: see compile

- merge: (re)inclusion of a forked (or branched) piece of software

- modification: a modification to software is a "code change" and does not

- multi-licensing: offering the same code under two alternative choices for

- network copyleft: a copyleft license that defines "distribution" to include

- "non-discrimination": principle

- Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL): a specification language for digital

- open source software: a software license that meets the definition for open

- Open Source Initiative (OSI): a 501(c)3 tax-exempt  California public

- Open Source Definition (OSD)

- outbound license

- patch: a unit of contribution, when the contribution consist of a difference

- permissive:  open source license which does not have copyleft effect

- project vs product:

- public domain: term identifying works not covered by intellecual property

- Publication or release: publication is defined in U.S. copyright law, and

- recursion: see recursion

- Restriction: a limitation on license scope, such as a limitation to fields

- release: see also *version* [care needed here, a release is usually more

- reverse engineering: 

- revision control: see also git, GitHub

- SaaS copyleft (and SaaS permissive): see network copyleft

- source: almost always refers to the source *code*, rather than the place or

- source code: collection of computer instructions written using a

- source code offer

- source compatibility: [maybe?/Robbie]

- specification: see also implementation (as opposite)

- static linking: see compile

- scripting language: see *interpreted language*

- tarball, JAR, zip:  packaging methods [tarball and JAR should be separately

- upstream: subject(s) higher in the supply chain

- userspace:

- version (of a license or software)

- version control: a synomym for revision control

**Terms that should normally be avoided (and why):**

- Public domain license: "public domain" is not a universal concept, and if a

- viral: 

- to taint

- academic: carries connotations of non-commercial, and can also be confused

- API: the term is used for many different types of computer interactions, so

- Intellectual Property (IP): open source affects patent, copyright,

- "weak" copyleft: occasionally derogatory term; "file-level"/"file-based" and

- Dual license: used to describe two different concepts: (1) offering the same

- commercial: used to mean software that is not under a free and open source

- non-commercial: see commercial

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Teams/LegalNetwork/Glossary of FOSS Legal terms (last edited 2018-09-09 23:47:06 by LuisV)