Which software license for disaggregation code?

I have finally started writing my smart meter disaggregation code! I'll keep the code private until we publish a paper on our disaggregation system, and then I'll open up the repository on github.

I spent a while worrying about which software license to use. I've just finished reading "Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software" so I was very tempted to use GPL. The GPL forces people who modify your code to release their modifications in the hopes that everyone can benefit from every improvement. This has worked very well for projects like the Linux kernel; but there does seem to be good evidence that some software companies and developers are "allergic" to the GPL because it limits their freedom to modify the code, hence some companies would rather re-write GPL'd code or go with an alternative project.

One of my main motivations for doing a PhD on smart meter disaggregation is the rather idealistic hope that my work might, in some very small way, help people to reduce their energy consumption. As such, the priority must be to allow as many people as possible to use any disaggregation software I write. So I've gone for a very simple and permissive license: the MIT license.

(Of course, I rather suspect that my code won't be used much, so all this worrying about licenses might be somewhat premature ... but it's worth getting it right from the start).

I considered a number of different names for my Python disaggregation code: nilmpy, pynilm, nilmtk, disaggpy. I went with "slicedpy" because it makes me smile ;) (the idea being that smart meter disaggregation is a little like taking a pie (representing your whole-home energy consumption) and slicing it into its component pieces (each representing the energy consumed by an individual appliance); hence the name "SlicedPy". It's spelt "py" not "pie" because the code is mostly written in Python).

Update 1/8/2013

@OpenTRV suggested that I use the Apache v2.0 software license because it has some patent protection. It won't protect against patent trolls but it seems better than no patent protection. I am now using the Apache v2.0 license.

Useful links

Add new comment