Software and Copyright Licensing, including Open Source
OTC assists inventors and authors in determining the appropriate strategy for distributing
software and other copyrighted material owned by the University. Distribution mechanisms used
by the University for software fall into three main categories:
- Commercial Licensing
Commercial licensing by the University can be done directly to end users or through distributors.
Payment forms vary from product to product, but will generally either be on a fixed fee basis
(one-time or annual) or on a royalty basis. OTC maintains price lists for popular software.
OTC maintains templates for commercial software licenses, including
an Evaluation License that is used
in circumstances where a firm wishes to gain access to the software for evaluation purposes
for a limited period of time before purchasing a license.
- Open Source Licensing and Publication
In accordance with the policy of the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System,
OTC supports open source licensing and publication of university-owned software and assists
creators in determining the best method of distribution.
- Dual Licensing
Under dual licensing, one software program is made available under the two different
distribution mechanisms described above. Under the open source/publication mechanism,
source code for the software is made available at no cost under license terms that
allow third parties to study the software and use it for research purposes, but contain
restrictions on use or distribution that may make commercial use unfeasible. Under the
commercial licensing mechanism, the software is licensed for a fee on licensing terms
that permit the use of the software for commercial purposes.
Procedures for Disclosing Software to OTC
Regardless of the mechanism of distribution of the software, creators wishing to distribute
software should fully complete, sign, and submit to OTC a Software
Disclosure Form. OTC will not review Software Disclosure Forms for patentability. If the
creators believe that the software may incorporate patentable inventions, they should also complete,
sign, and submit a Disclosure Form (Physical
Sciences). If both disclosure forms are used, they should reference each other. OTC will
discuss licensing strategies with the principal investigator or unit head responsible for the
creation of the software.
Procedures for Open Source Licensing and Publication of University-Owned Software
Creators who wish to publish or open source license software owned by the University should take
the following steps:
- Complete the Software Disclosure
Form and return a fully-signed copy to OTC, together with copies of
any open source licenses applicable to any third-party open source software included
in the software.
- Select appropriate license in consultation with OTC. Upon submission of
the disclosure form, OTC will work with the creators to understand any limitations on distribution.
For example, sponsored research encumbrances, joint ownership, or incorporation of third-party
open source software can all limit the university's ability to license the software on an open source basis.
OTC can assist the creators in selecting the appropriate form of open source license or other method
of publication based on the goals of the creators, the perceived commercial value of the software,
and any third party restrictions applicable to the software. Software may be released under the
a Research Only License, or other appropriate
open source or source-available license.
- Obtain department chair approval for open source release. In accordance
with UT System policy, creators should obtain approval for the proposed method of distribution from
their department chair or unit head.
- Posting of software. Once the steps described above have been completed,
the creators can then post or distribute the software under the chosen open source license. OTC can help
you determine the appropriate copyright notice and license text to include with the posting. If the software
is also being made available for commercial licensing through OTC as described under "Dual Licensing"
above, then notice of appropriate OTC contacts for licensing can be provided on the website. Please keep
OTC informed of the website URL at which your software is posted.
- Acceptance of third-party contributions. If you plan to solicit and accept
third-party contributions to the software, it is important to obtain necessary rights from the third-party
contributors at the time the contribution is made, so that the university may continue distributing the
software. OTC will assist with this process.
Other Copyrightable Material
OTC also manages licensing of all University of Texas at Austin-owned copyrights. To distribute or license
copyrighted material owned by The University of Texas at Austin, please contact OTC.
Please contact Jitendra Jain for any questions on software licensing.
Copyright ©2006-2013, Office of Technology Commercialization. All rights reserved.