Open Source and Other Software Sharing Options
Introduction: As creators of software, faculty, staff and students at UCLA often want the flexibility to share their software with others. Below are FAQs to help you with open source software decisions, but before you decide on open source, consider that there are other tools that will give you the ability to share, but yet keep open the option for commercial activities.
- How do I determine if I own my software or if it belongs to The Regents? In either case, can I release it under any license I want?
- Will sharing or releasing my software affect my ability to pursue a patent on my software?
- Do I need to fill out a disclosure form for my software?
- Self-service Software License Picker
How do I determine if I own my software or if it belongs to The Regents? In either case, can I release it under any license I want?
Whether the University owns the software you have created falls under a number of UC policies, including UC’s Patent Policy , UC’s Copyright Policies , and policies and guidance concerning ownership and management of tangible research results. Please see Copyright FAQ s and/or email TDG at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Will sharing or releasing my software affect my ability to pursue a patent on my software?
Likely, but there are ways to share your code and yet preserve your/the University’s ability to pursue a patent, if your software is patent eligible. If you are concerned about affecting patent rights, please contact TDG at email@example.com.
Do I need to fill out a disclosure form for my software?
- Includes patent eligible material; or
- Was developed using third party funding and the University has contractual obligations to such third party; or
- If you are interested in commercializing the software or believe the software is of commercial interest.
Download the most up-to-date Software Disclosure Form by clicking here
Self-Service Software License Picker
If you are interested in sharing your software with others outside of UCLA, and (1) no third party restrictions or obligations restrict such sharing, and (2) your situation fits into one of the scenarios listed below, you can choose the appropriate license and begin using it immediately. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact TDG at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- I want researchers to be able to use my software only for non-commercial purposes
a. I want researchers to be able to modify my source code and share it with other researchers
Use the “TDG-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike” License. Click here to find out more information and to access the license.
b. I want researchers to be able to modify my source code for their own research only
Use the “TDG-Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDistrib” License. Click here to find out more information and to access the license.
c. I want to give a commercial entity access to my code for a limited time for evaluation purposes and preserve the opportunity for TDG to commercialize or license my code.
Use the “TDG-Evaluation” License. Click here to find out more information and to access the license.
- I need to publish my source code in a journal with open source licensing requirements
Use the “BSD License” License. Click here to find out more information and to access the license.
- Can I contribute to an Open Source software project?
Possibly, but some open source projects use licenses that are inconsistent with UC policies, guidance, and practices. We can usually determine an acceptable alternative compatible open source license, so before committing your software to an open source project, please consult with TDG at email@example.com to find the best license for your project.
- Can I release my code using any open source license?
To be compliant with UC policy and practices (and assuming no third party obligations or restrictions prohibit release of the code and none of the UCLA noncommercial licenses located here will sufficiently serve your needs), we recommend the BSD License, language available here. If you are concerned about using this license, please contact TDG at firstname.lastname@example.org to find the best license for your project.
Where do I put the license in my software?
In a prominent place. Often there is a “license.txt” file in the distribution package containing the license. There may be a User’s Guide that contains the license. Some even put the license in every source code file. The license must be accessible in human readable format in your distribution.
What if I just want to share my code with a few people and get feedback? Do I have to get a license?
Reach out to TDG at email@example.com – it is very likely such sharing can be accommodated with a relatively streamlined agreement.
Can my software be released via an Open Source Software (OSS) license if UCLA has granted an exclusive license to a patent that covers such software?
Probably not. While an exclusive license to software could hypothetically coexist with releasing a version of such software via an OSS license, this is a complicated question and will require careful review and analysis. Consult with TDG at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if the funding I used to create the software does not allow for Open Source Software (OSS) licensing?
Contact TDG at email@example.com to determine whether there is another route in which your software can be shared with others.
What do I do if I have already released some code and I want to change the license?
Consult with TDG at firstname.lastname@example.org on how to do this without violating the terms of the original license. It may require consulting with all of the contributors of the code under the original license.
What do I do if someone has violated the open source license I used for software I have released?
If the software is owned by The Regents of the University of California, consult with TDG at email@example.com.