Intro to Copyright and Licensing (Activity)

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Latest revision as of 13:15, 25 June 2017


Intro to Copyright and Licensing (Activity)


Participants will explore different types of licenses frequently used by open source projects.



Learning Objectives After successfully completing this activity, the learner should be able to:
  • Identify a project’s license
  • Identify constraints license imposes on your contributions
  • Articulate whether or not you are comfortable contributing to a project with a given license
Process Skills Practiced
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication


A quick YouTube search will yield a number of good videos on copyright and licensing. I recommend watching one or two on each topic: copyright and licensing. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Copyright Clearance Center. “Copyright Basics”. 2010. . This video explains copyrights from a business perspective.
  • Intel Software. “Open Source Basics”. 2014. . This video explains how open source software is enabled through licensing.
  • Watch Now, UK. “Creative Commons & Copyright Info”. 2012. This video explains the purpose of licenses from a content producer’s view who wants to let other use their work without having to ask permission. It specifically talks about the Creative Commons licenses.
  • CppCon 2015: Kevin P. Fleming “A Crash Course in Open Source Licensing". . A much more in-depth, longer talk on copyright, software, and open source licensing.


  1. Identify the license for the following projects:
  2. Go to . Look up each of the above licenses. Identify the “cans” the “cannots” and the “musts” for each.
  3. For each license, state whether you would (or would not) be comfortable contributing code to that project and why (or why not).


POSSE: On your user wiki page, a section answering the above questions.

Notes for Instructors



ACM Body of Knowledge
Area & Unit(s)

What ACM Body of Knowledge Area and Unit(s) are covered?

ACM Topic(s)

What specific topics are addressed? The Computing Curricula 2013 provides a list of topics in Appendix A - The Body of Knowledge (page 58) -

Level of Difficulty

Easy to medium

Estimated Completion Time

40-60 minutes

Environment / Materials

Internet access


Stoney Jackson and Karl Wurst


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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