You usually see open source components being licensed under common licenses such as the MIT, GPL, or Apache Licenses. However, there are some creative, funny, and ridiculous open source licenses that also exist. As you decide which open source license you'll choose for your next project, here are six out-there options you might come across.
An extremely permissive license that allows the user to do anything with the licensed material as long as the original copyright is retained. If the users like the software and happen to meet the author, they are obligated to buy the author a beer. In some versions, the users are encouraged to drink a beer in honor of the author. Essentially, it is a silly license that suggests buying or drinking a beer in return!
With the CDL, or Chicken Dance License, instead of distributing the source code there is an option to post videos of the employees doing the “Chicken Dance” on social media. The instructions on how the Chicken Dance should be performed is included in a file titled “DANCE”, and each company can be required to perform a different version of the dance. The purpose of this license was to bring some lightheartedness to the rules around Intellectual Property!
This license is a very permissive license that allows you to do absolutely whatever you want, with the exception that there is no trace to track the author of the original product. It’s pretty hard to do because you’d have to erase all traces. Additionally, this license would give no credit to whoever wrote the software.
WTFPL, short for Do What The F*$% You Want To Public License, is a super permissive license with the most freedoms. As the name implies, it allows you to do whatever you want and has no extra restrictions. Seeing that is probably the most permissive license out there, most companies find the terms too vague and don’t allow software to be licensed under the WTFPL.
The Hot Potato License is literally a game of hot potato. It transfers full ownership of the repository to the person that made the last commit. All rights are given to this person, except for the right to commit a change to this repository as it is granted to everyone. This ensures that no person is in charge of the license forever and is a continuous game of hot potato!
This license is pretty much ineffective. It essentially states that you are allowed to copy, modify, and distribute the source code but you can not run, execute, or use the software built from the source code.
How to Apply a License to Your Open Source Project
Whether you select something from this list or a more conventional option like the MIT license, it's important to be familiar with the do's and don'ts of actually adding a license to your project. Get step-by-step guidance by checking out our post: "How to Apply a License to Your Open Source Software Project."
We are not lawyers, and if you are seeking legal advice we suggest you speak to a legal team that specializes in open source licensing.