A document or agreement giving permission to do something. Most commonly, a driver's license is an agreement with the state to allow operation of a motor vehicle. Like many licenses, it can be revoked in the presence of unlawful behavior or, with private institutions, make the user liable for suit.
Licenses in software are common as they selectively decide what an individual can do with software. Sometimes a license has a requirement such as limited use such as reverse engineering or export.
The GPL open-source license is unique in that it requires any changes to code also be made public. This is an effort to encourage innovation and prevent code from stagnating. BSD licenses require no such distribution.
- Wider-subject Wikipedia version: "License"
- Gnu.org: Confusing words and phrases worth avoiding.
- Libresociety.org Theories of Free Software and the Commons
- BSD License
- Creative Commons
- FDL - Free Documentation Lisence - also from the GNU organization
- GPL - GNU Public Lisence
- LGPL - Lesser GNU Public Lisence
- Public domain - what this Wiki is licensed under (NB: not really a license; this actually means there is no copyright on the work)
- Transcopyright - Pre-permission for virtual republishing