Can I Sell Software With Mit License

Do you use the MIT License for your software? If so, can you sell it? Can you sell it for a profit? I’ll try to answer these questions below. But first, some background on me and this website.

The MIT license, or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology license when you want to be formal with your wording, has been used by many open-source developers including Mozilla and the Linux Kernel. But does that mean you can use this license too if you develop commercial software?

According to the MIT License, Version 1.0… You may distribute verbatim copies of the Program’s source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program.

Every software developer dreams of selling their software online and making a full time income out of it. But there is a problem. According to the law, you can’t sell software with the MIT license. So what can you do?

Software licensing is a business model by which the original developer (also known as vendor) grants users the rights to run the software, and possibly make copies for others within a company or organization. This leads to a license agreement which states what is actually allowed when the software is being used.

Yes, you can sell software with MIT license. The MIT license is a permissive open source license that allows you to sell your program and distribute it commercially as long as you include the original copyright notice, a copy of the license, and a disclaimer of warranty in any documentation.

The MIT license allows you to sell software that you’ve created with the MIT license if it is used in an end product and you are distributing it.

The most important thing to note about the MIT license is that it does not require attribution. That means that if you do sell software with this license, there is no requirement to give credit to the creator of the code or link back to their site.

You can sell software with a MIT license. However, you may want to consider the following:

  • If you sell software under a MIT license, your customers are allowed to modify and distribute their changes as they see fit. This means that if you’re selling something that’s designed to be customized by users, then you should make sure that any modifications made by your customers won’t violate your original license and/or copyright.
  • If you sell software under a MIT license, your customers are not allowed to sue for damages caused by those modifications or distributions (unless you personally release code that violates your original license).

What is the MIT License?

The MIT license gives users express permission to reuse code for any purpose, sometimes even if code is part of proprietary software. As long as users include the original copy of the MIT license in their distribution, they can make any changes or modifications to the code to suit their own needs.

It is one of the most simple open source license agreements. The intent was for the text to be understandable by average users and to avoid extensive litigation, which may arise from other similar Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) licenses. 

What is the history of the MIT license?

A joint project between IBM, MIT, and Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1983 seems to be the origin of the MIT license. The reason it only seems to be the start is that there were multiple different versions used at varying times with changes to the exact text.

Open-source software licensing became required in the 1980s. Before then, most programmers readily shared their code bases to improve scientific research and develop systems that could further human knowledge and technology. In 1960s, computers had found applications in universities around the world, leading to researchers writing code to test their mathematical hypothesis. 

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the late Edward Lorenz first used his weather prediction software in the 1960s to note chaotic discrepancies when he introduced small changes to his simulations (now called Chaos Theory). These types of innovations made software highly desirable for large corporations, ushering in the era of proprietary software. 

By 1980, source code for devices like printers was no longer freely available. It prompted MIT professor, Richard Stallman, to go on a lifelong crusade to make source code available to communities of developers. To keep software shareable, institutions, like MIT, were required to develop a software licensing agreement, especially for original code that originated from within the academic fields. 

What are the benefits of the MIT Open Source license?

A significant benefit of using the MIT license is that it serves both sides of the debate equally well. Some developers feel the GNU GPL licenses are too liberal, while others think all software should eventually become proprietary. Due to the MIT License’s open language, it’s suitable for both community developers and teams that want to produce propriety software using existing pieces of MIT licensed code.

What are the MIT license terms and conditions?

The primary terms and conditions of the MIT license are to grant permissions and indemnify developers for future use. Specifically, it grants any person who obtains a copy of the software and associated files the right to use, copy, modify, merge, distribute, publish, sublicense, and sell copies of the software.

The only condition required to use the software is to include the same copyright notice in all copies or any substantial portions of the software. The final portion of the text provides for limitations and revokes any warranty implied by sharing the code. 

What class is the MIT Open Source license referred to?

Open source and free software classes come in two distinct types. 

  • Copyleft – Weak and strong copyleft (as opposed to copyright) licenses attempt to make all software based on any open source components also enforce similar FOSS licensing on their work. 
  • BSD-Style and permissive – These licenses impose minimal restrictions (if any) on how any subsequent users can implement, modify, or extend the software for open source or proprietary purposes. 

The MIT license falls under the permissive (or BSD-style) of FOSS licenses. BSD-style licenses allow any user to do anything with the code, granted they provide attribution and do not claim any liability in the future. 

MIT License vs Apache 2.0

The Apache 2.0 license and MIT license are broadly similar, but there are some key differences. For one, the Apache 2.0 license text is much more thorough and contains more legal terminology than the MIT license. The MIT license aims to be the most simple and straightforward open source license for developers to distribute their software under.

Another key difference is that the Apache license requires developers to disclose any major changes they make to the original source code. The modified source code does not need to be revealed, but a notice of the modification is required. However, any unmodified code must retain the Apache license.

Unlike the MIT license, open source software under the Apache license that has been modified is permitted to be patented by the end user as well. These patent rights are global, perpetual, irrevocable, and non-exclusive as long as the modified version does not suggest that it’s endorsed by Apache in any way. The language of the Apache license makes the explicit grant of patent rights clear, but the patent rights are more ambiguous in the MIT license.

How do I get my MIT license?

To use the MIT license, developers need to copy the text as provided and include in source files as applicable. If using any other MIT licensed software in the project, retain the original license information at the top of the file, while keeping the copyright statements (if unchanged).

Can anyone use the MIT license?

Yes, any developer or user can include the MIT license in their project, granted they know that it means all rights associated with their work will be freely available for future modification.

How popular is the MIT license?

From all available FOSS licenses, the MIT license remains the most popular. In 2019, researchers found that 27% of all open-source licenses on Github were using the MIT license because it is short, to the point, and optimized for developers.

How do I know if I am compliant with license terms and conditions?

It is important to embrace license compliance early in the software development lifecycle. Snyk makes it easy for developers to integrate license compliance into their existing workflows. Offering a variety of integrations, Snyk enables developers to apply license testing on each and every stage of the SDLC and as early as possible.

The MIT License is a permissive free software license originating at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the late 1980s. As a permissive license, it puts only very limited restriction on reuse and has, therefore, high license compatibility.

The MIT License is compatible with many copyleft licenses, such as the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL). Any software licensed under the terms of the MIT License can be integrated with software licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL. Unlike copyleft software licenses, the MIT License also permits reuse within proprietary software, provided that all copies of the software or its substantial portions include a copy of the terms of the MIT License and also a copyright notice. As of 2020, the MIT License was the most popular software license found in one analysis, continuing from reports in 2015 that the MIT License was the most popular software license on GitHub.

Notable projects that use the MIT License include the X Window System, Ruby on Rails, Nim, Node.js, Lua, and jQuery. Notable companies using the MIT License include Microsoft (.NET Core), Google (Angular), and Meta (React).

Conclusion

After reading the article you will end up with a completely clear picture of whether or not you can sell software you have created using the MIT license. The answer is yes, but there are some things to consider before taking this step. If you decide to take it, thank you for reading this article and we hope that it has been useful to you.

You can sell software with the MIT license, as long as you follow the guidelines I’ve laid out in this article. Determining your costs, deciding if you need a reseller, and protecting your copyrights are all important things to consider. So make sure you understand what’s entailed in the MIT license before you start selling your apps. Stay safe and continue to code!

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