Coherent Open Source preserves  the Open Source Definition, and promotes the use of a minimal set of three licenses, which can satisfy most business purposes.

The Coherent Open Source Licenses:

  • Are all approved by both the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative.
  • Are all compatible with each other. All Open Source software under one of the Coherent licenses can be mixed together, without license conflicts.
  • All contain clauses regarding software patenting.

The Coherent Open Source Licenses Are:

  • Apache 2.0 – easiest for incorporating into proprietary software, as compliance requirements are minimal.
  • LGPL 3 – Share-and-share-alike terms, for a restricted file set, allows combination with proprietary software.
  • Affero GPL 3 – Familiar GPL share-and-share-alike for the entire program, with a provision regarding software-as-a-service.

We suggest that Open Source developers apply these licenses to all new work, and migrate existing projects to them as community dynamics permit. This will result in compatibility of more Open Source programs with each other, and an end to the complexity of license proliferation.

We recognize that some companies are uncomfortable with the Affero GPL 3, due to its terms regarding software-as-a-service, circumvention, and software patents; and maybe even LGPL 3 due to its terms regarding software patents.

We believe that license choice should be in the hands of Open Source developers, not industry. Thus, we suggest that developers push the line of what licenses industry uses by applying LGPL 3 and AGPL 3 to their own work.

We do not intend to change the license list except to update it to new versions of the same licenses.

We will preserve the Open Source definition that the community has used for 22 years, without further modification. Rule 10 of the OSD, below, is the only modification since the original and was added early in the history of Open Source. It is implied by the other rules.

The Open Source Definition


Open source doesn’t just mean access to the source code. The distribution terms of open-source software must comply with the following criteria:

1. Free Redistribution

The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.

2. Source Code

The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.

3. Derived Works

The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.

4. Integrity of The Author’s Source Code

The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified form only if the license allows the distribution of “patch files” with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time. The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software.

5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

7. Distribution of License

The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.

8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product

The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program’s being part of a particular software distribution. If the program is extracted from that distribution and used or distributed within the terms of the program’s license, all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original software distribution.

9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software

The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.

10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral

No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.