Comparison of Open Source Licenses in 2023

Below is a table that compares popular open-source licenses.

LicensePermissivenessCopyleftPatent GrantComplexityAttributionDerivative & Redistribution LicensingExamples
MIT LicenseVery highNoneNoLowRequiredAny license, No RequirementjQuery, .NET Core
GNU GPLLowStrongNoHighRequiredGPL OnlyLinux kernel, WordPress
GNU LGPLModerateWeakNoModerateRequiredLGPL or More Permissive, Required LGPLGTK
Apache License 2.0Very highNoneYesModerateRequired with changesAny license, No RequirementApache HTTPD, Kafka
BSD LicensesVery highNoneNoLowVaries by clauseAny license, No RequirementFreeBSD, NetBSD
MPL 2.0ModerateFile-levelNoModerateRequiredMPL or More Permissive, Required MPLFirefox
Creative CommonsVariesVariesNoLow to ModerateVaries by license typeVariesArtwork, music, blogs
Eclipse Public LicenseModerateModerateNoModerateRequiredAny license, No RequirementEclipse IDE


  • Permissiveness: Describes how free the users are to use, modify, and distribute the code. “Very high” means there are minimal restrictions, while “Low” means there are more restrictions.
  • Copyleft: Describes the requirement for derivative works to remain under the same license. “None” means no such requirement, “Strong” means a strict requirement, and “Weak” or “File-level” means only some parts (e.g., modified files) need to be under the same license.
  • Patent Grant: Indicates if the license grants patent rights from the contributors to the users.
  • Complexity: Indicates the difficulty in understanding, applying, and using the license.
  • Attribution: Refers to the requirement of giving credit to the original authors. If the license requires attribution only with changes, it means that users must mention changes they made when redistributing the code.
  • Derivative & Redistribution Licensing: Conditions under which modified works or redistributions of original content must operate.