Subject: Re: Licensing question
From: Ben Tilly <>
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 08:21:22 -0800

 Wed, 9 Nov 2005 08:21:22 -0800
On 11/9/05, jack fredricks <> wrote:
> Hi all,
> first off, please let me say that my knowledge of OSS licences is minimal.
> secondly, I hope I don't offend anyone here by asking my question, I
> have a feeling that what I want to do is "anti"-open-source...

The phrase "open source" was created to make for a more inclusive tent
than existing terms such as "free software".

> 1) I want to develop an application
> 2) I want PARTS of it to be open source
> 3) I want to keep 'control' of the application, both financially and legally
> 4) I don't want to keep 'control' of any PARTS that are open source,
> just the bits that aren't.
> Is this at all possible?


Use the BSD license (or equivalent) for the open source bits.  Make
the rest proprietary.  The open source bits will be open source.  The
rest won't.  And the fact that you have contributed open source code
makes you pro-open source. :-)

An alternate strategy is to use a dual license, GPL/other, for the
open source bits.  That will discourage contribution to those bits,
but it will also discourage competitors for your main product.

> Obviously right now I'm trying to find out if it's legally possible.
> If it is, I'll then consider if it's actually feasible. My fear is if
> the entire project isn't open source, I wont be able to get others to
> contribute to the open source bits.

That depends on how useful the open source bits are.  If you are
proceeding with the intention of waving the open source wand and
getting lots of contributions, you're likely to be unhappy.  But there
are lots of other reasons to make those bits open source.  For
instance you may want to push a standard, give customers the ability
to customize your product, or avoid forking code that you're borrowing
from elsewhere.

For more detailed strategy discussions, a better list is the Free
Software Business list at  You can sign up for that at,