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Free Software licensing resources

Learn more about Free Software licenses and related issues.

Whether you're a new user who wants to learn more about the GNU GPL, or a developer curious about how a license affects you, we have a number of resources to help you find the information you're looking for.

The GNU Licenses

The following licenses are published by the Free Software Foundation:


We have a number of essays on our site to help introduce people to Free Software licensing. They provide definitions for common terms, explain the principles behind our licenses, and address common concerns in detail. If you're looking for general background on these issues, this is the best place to start.

Answers to Common Questions

If you have a particular question about a Free Software license, there's a good chance you'll find an answer on one of the pages below. These resources are primarily aimed at developers and users who are especially interested in licensing issues.

  • The GPL Howto explains how you can release the software you write under the GNU GPL or LGPL. If you're about to publish a new program, just follow this step-by-step guide.
  • The GPL FAQ lists many common questions about the GNU GPL and LGPL, and provides answers which are clear and concise.
  • Our list of licenses offers basic information about many common software licenses, such as whether or not it's a Free Software license, and if it's GPL-compatible. It also includes licenses for related materials such as documentation and general data.
  • We've published instructions for reporting license violations. Please follow these steps if you think you've found a violation of any Free Software license.

Speeches and seminars

We occasionally give speeches about special topics, and conduct seminars to provide a comprehensive review of a particular license or issue. Check the FSF Events page to see what's on our calendar. If you'd like to arrange a talk for your organization, please contact us.


The Compliance Lab blog reports news of interest to licensing wonks, and provides background about the work we're doing. Let us know if you've found an issue we should be talking about.

Answers by e-mail

If none of this information has answered your question, don't despair — just write us and we'll be happy to answer it. All you have to do is send an e-mail to, and we'll be in touch.

Created by brett
Last modified 2006-11-10 03:34 PM

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