The Nonviolent Public License Family - Official Page

The rest of this page is not to be confused with the contents of the Licenses themselves, it is only a description. The licenses themselves are each available on git, below.

To clarify: These Licenses are intended not only for Software, but also for creative works of all kinds.

The git that has the latest version of each license is here All licenses version numbers from v7 onwards are shared and track the version number of the npl-builder project.


To ensure your project is able to apply fixes from newer versions of the NVPL or CNPL please add a "+" at the end of the license abbreviation, like either of these: NVPLv7+ CNPLv4+. You can also specify that you only want your work available under certain versions like so: NVPLv0,1 CNPLv0,1 (to make your work available under either version 0 or 1 of the License). It is highly recommended to keep up to date, but short of that, please only use versions 7 and above. This is so that when future project milestones are met, you automatically get the changes.

CNPLv7 Download Mirror - here

Brief License Summary (For Lay-People)

The Nonviolent Public License aims to ensure basic protections against forms of violence, coercion, and discrimination which creations are frequently leveraged for in the modern world. This license covers several formats of creative work but has extra terms for software given the power it has as a tool outside of its creative capacities.

The Cooperative Nonviolent Public License and CNPL-NA go further and only allow commercial use of the copyrighted work for individuals and worker-owned organizations.

The NVPL-NA and CNPL-NA licenses are variants of their namesakes which do not require attributions in derivative works. If that's your style

The rights granted on the copyrighted work include:

(Subject to any restrictions)

The restrictions on the copyrighted work are as follows:

Copyleft and more "Typical" Legal Restrictions

Ethical Restrictions on usage

EDIT: I've noticed many people scrutinize this section extra carefully, so rather than summarizing it, and making it unclear whether you think there are any "gotchas" or "loopholes", I'd invite you to read the relevant part of the license yourself. But don't worry, I'll be your reading guide :)

Ctrl+F for "You may exercise the rights granted in the license grant for any purposes only if:" here. Note any words that are uppercase, they may be carefully defined at the top of the document. What makes this section work is the combination of strict definitions in combination with the explicit use restricions.

Extra Restriction in the CNPL

You cannot sell the licensed work as a "traditional company" (anything other than a non-worker-owned cooperative, so hierarchical cooperatives do not count). You can only commercially redistribute licensed works as an individual or as a worker-owned cooperative. Refer to the previous link above under the Commercial Restrictions heading for the exact wording.

Check out the "Licenses For Freedom" Blog

Projects using the CNPL

Contact me on the project or my social media and I will add your project to this list.

A Note to those concerned about "Free Software"

The Nonviolent Public Licenses intentionally do not meet the Free Software Definition because of the restrictions put in place to protect others from violence aided by the use of the copyrighted work. "Freedom 0" is explicitly violated to afford these protections and prevent unethical usage of the program to actually Free Society.This license does preserve freedoms 1-3 and can be referred to as a "three freedoms" license. Similarly to the GNU AGPL this license has the additional requirement that server-side source code modifications to public-facing server software must be published for users as well as the usual expectations for FLOSS software with the exception of restrictions on Freedom 0 for ethical purposes.

With this in mind, can licenses which do not leverage ethical restrictions on "freedom" 0 really be said to "Free Society" as Stallman claims when they allow for the running of concentration camps and surveillance states? I leave it for you to decide.

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Last updated July 25, 12021 Human Era by thufie

I am not a Lawyer and this license has not yet been tried in a court of law. Portions of this license have seen legal review. If you are a lawyer and want to review this license to make the legal protections more robust please contact me with the information on my site's contact page.

kopimi ;P