I have a piece of software, that I would like to license and protect but I am having a hard time finding the right license, and how I would go about with it.

Is there a license that allows:
- Free distribution of the executable and DLL's
- Costs money to gain hold of developers libraries(static)
- Costs money to gain hold of the source code
- Not allowed selling or distributing the source that you just bought

Sorry If I am not very clear, I am kinda new to this, and will try to answer all your questions.

Is it possible to create your own license, I was assuming not.

This would be for online distribution.

You can create any license you want, but conversation with an attorney would probably be a good idea. FWIW, even open source licenses, such as the GPL, Apache, BSD, and other open souce licenses can protect you and your code from misappropriation by others. In any case, if you write your own license, you can restrict how it is used or redistributed. You probably would want to have a separate license for the source code in such a situation, from how I read your post. As I said, talk with an attorney who has some knowledge of intellectual property issues.

What you are describing is just a typical commercial license, with the only difference that you are not charging a price for getting the program (i.e. freeware). But that's still a commercial license, you can charge the price you want for any of the three distributions (app, libs, or source), including zero (free). A generic freeware license should work fine for you.

A simple google search would turn up a few good example license:

The freeware license used by Adobe for their "Acrobat Reader" application which is distributed for free (to read pdf files) but the libraries and sources are protected by copyrights.

The freeware license used by Eltima, which is a simple typical example of a freeware license which says that the user can use the software freely, install it anywhere he wants to, give it out to people for free (except for small fee to cover the cost of making the copies or whatever, e.g., the cost of buying a writable CD), but is not allowed to make any money off of distribution or re-packaging it. It also forbids reverse-engineering and all that stuff, i.e., basically protecting the libs and sources (and the intellectual property on that).


As for the license on your libs and sources, cross that bridge when you get to it. Just make a note on your website that you are open to making a licensing deal to distribute your libs or sources, and wait for people to contact you about that, at that point, consult with a copyright lawyer to make sure you get a fair license deal. There's no point in doing this work before you actually have a real prospect of selling one such license (which you might never get, just to be realistic).


N.B.: Make sure that you did not use any libraries that were distributed under an open-source license like GPL/LGPL. In that case, you cannot choose your license, you have to use an open-source license for your own software too.

N.B.2: Another possibility is to have dual licensing, that is, like Qt for example, which distributes their software, libraries and sources under a copyleft open-source license (GPL) and then also distribute their libs and sources under a commercial licence for those you want to use Qt in commercial software. In other words, it is not because you distribute under GPL (like I do) that you lose the right to redistribute commercially as well, because the intellectual property is still yours (as long as all your code is original or under other very open licenses like BSD). And distributing in dual licensing is a very good way to get potential customers for your commercial license who are already fans of the open-source distribution.

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