finding the right licence

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Berit Müller

Jun 12, 2021, 10:11:43 AMJun 12
to openmod list

Hello all,

we have been dealing with open licences for such a long time now and now I am again unsure which one to propose. It is not an energy system but a VR (virtual reality) application. Because we can't put practice roofs and practice facilities everywhere we want to have solar schools to teach the construction of PV systems, we have developed a pilot application with a developer's office in Berlin that instructs you to mount a few modules on a roof in virtual reality.

Now we would like to grant a free licence so that it can be used by many people and also be extended (other mounting systems, other roofs, other languages, add an inverter,...). It should also be possible to use it for commercial purposes, but all extensions should again be made available to the general public. It would also be nice to name all relevant developers somewhere....

What do you say - rather "GNU Free Documentation License" or CC-BY-SA??? or something else???? If you have any ideas, please write to me.

All the best




Dipl.-Ing. Berit Müller

managing director

DGS - German society for solar energy

section Berlin Brandenburg 

Erich-Steinfurth-Straße 8          

D - 10243 Berlin

Phone: +49 30 293812 67

Fax: +49 30 293812 61



District court of Berlin-Charlottenburg VR 7591 B


Robbie Morrison

Jun 12, 2021, 11:56:44 AMJun 12

Hi Berit (onlist because the answer is general)

I think you will certainly need a software license if code is involved. Rather than advise on license choice directly, I suggest you look up this new service from the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE):

Free software projects can register using that URL to receive help from FSFE legal experts to become "REUSE" compliant. REUSE is the FSFE program to get proper legal notices in codebases. The FSFE apparently also offer a kick‑off workshop, an individual project evaluation, and direct contact persons in case of questions.

For all registrations prior to 8 July 2021, a jury consisting of FSFE people, some REUSE sponsors (like Siemens), and community members will select a number of projects, depending on their complexity, relevance and our own resources, for processing. I guess that means without charge too?

If you don't want to follow that route, I am happy to discuss your licensing options offlist.  But not before Wednesday because I am booked out.

hope all goes well, with best regards, Robbie

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Robbie Morrison
Address: Schillerstrasse 85, 10627 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49.30.612-87617

Nico Rikken

Jun 13, 2021, 7:27:16 AMJun 13
Hi Berit,

This is very interesting, thanks for posting it.
Recently I looked into a similar scenario of opening up 3D models for VR.
VR is getting ever more important for educational purposes, also in the energy sector. So sharing makes a whole lot of sense.

The Creative Commons licenses are commonly used for 3D models. Sketchfab allows you to search for these licenses:
It might be worthwhile to publish and share the 3D models separately from the entire application as they might be reused in different ways.

I'm not well versed in VR software to know how much code is involved. But for the rest of the application a coding license might make more sense.
If you want to force sharing improvements, you could consider licenses like GPL, AGPL, MPL (Mozilla Public License) in the different versions. License differ in when sharing is required.

Looking further into it, CC-BY-SA 4.0 was dsigned in such a way that it is compatible with GPLv3. More details can be found on the Creative Commons pages: (section "Why did CC decide to pursue compatibility with a software license (GPLv3)?")

On scenario you might want to consider is that when an organisation would like to adopt your CC-BY-SA licensed solar panel model in a VR application, if I understand it correctlly they are required to license the entire application in a SA-compatible license (CC-BY-SA or GPLv3).
From that perspective I I think a more LGPL like copyleft could be preferred, where share-alike is only required if the actual solar panel model (in this example) is modified.
As far as I understand it there is no such a LGPL like license in the Creative Commons space.
Maybe this is no issue from your perspective, but this is something that I was thinking about from my point of view.

But to summarise, a combination of CC-BY-SA and GPLv3 seem to make sense for your stated requirements.

Being involved with FSFE and being a contributor to the REUSE software, I'm flattered that Robbie mentions the new Booster program.
The REUSE Booster program is more focussed of correctly annotating the software repository so all persona dn computers correctly understand the copyright and license details.
But although the program is not primarily intended to help you choose a license, you can always just sign up and ask for advice, or just ask FSFE for advice directly.

I wish you all the best in sorting out this license issue and I'm looking forward to the published work.

Nico Rikken

Robbie Morrison schreef op za 12-06-2021 om 15:56 [+0000]:

Berit Müller

Jun 13, 2021, 3:22:43 PMJun 13
to Nico Rikken,

Dear Nico,

thanks for that. I didn’t think of differenciating between the 3D Pictures and the code. You’re completely right. We have to discuss that.

All the best.


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