Episode 29

How License Zero Works with Kyle Mitchell


March 27th, 2020

47 mins 4 secs

Your Hosts
Special Guest

About this Episode

Sponsored By:


Richard Littauer | Justin Dorfman | Pia Mancini | Eric Berry | Allen “Gunner” Gunn


Kyle E. Mitchell
Attorney, License Zero

Show Notes

Kyle E. Mitchell is an independent Attorney based in California. Today we talk to him about Open Source subjects such as “License Zero.” He delves into the types of licenses there are, what are their differences, and how they came about. Also, be sure to check out this week’s spotlights for ways to help out during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak.

1:42 Richard ask Kyle about his blog post about License Zero, aka dual licensing, selling exceptions, or public/private licensing. What it is, what it does, and how Dev’s get paid for their creative work.

03:14 Kyle explains that License Zero has two types of licenses, public, which is not open source and the other is parity.

06:55 Kyle talks about how License Zero started out with one licensing choice. It was similar to the Creative Commons license used for stock photos, music, etc.

10:24 Kyle reveals how he needed to create a new license for License Zero, a share-alike license that would help cover Dev’s work they were creating.

14:13 Pia asks about projects that he’s had experience using this license with, and lessons he’s learned.

21:00 Pia wants to know if License Zero is creating complexity in the Open Source world by having different licenses. Is this making it more difficult for people to navigate and understand what they can and can’t do with those licenses? Kyle goes into License Proliferation.

26:32 Richard brings up one of Kyle’s blog posts about the “curse of sustainability” and how it’s impossible to fix the open source problem.

33:04 So far, we’ve mainly talked about the “what” of licensing. Gunner wants Kyle to go into the “who” of licensing. Does he think of persona’s in the licensing world?


  • 41:15 Pia’s spotlight is the collective “Meals of Gratitude”, which sends meals to health workers.
  • 41:52 Richard’s spotlight is FOSS Responders, which helps Open Source Developers and Open Source Projects during this COVID-19 crisis.
  • 42:32 Kyle piggybacks Richard’s spotlight with Bandcamp Daily, which is also helping out music artist during COVID-19.
  • 43:51 Gunner spotlights Indeed’s Head of Open Source, Duane O’Brien, who spearheaded the FOSS Responders movement.
  • 45:16 Kyle chimes in with one more quick spotlight...Nick Craig-Wood’s Rclone library.


06:03 “And this idea that Open Source is a licensing question, first and foremost, and then that’s the whole question is wrong.”

44:14 “The thing I’m amazed with Duane is that he’s spun up this FOSS Responders project, he’s holding so many different communities with integrity, and he’s doing his job for Indeed. But he’s walking just 100% of what I consider to be free and Open source integrity.”

44:28 “He’s really being mindful of different communities and their different cultures. And in this time of crisis we need cloning to get done, so with Duane’s opt-in permission, we could have more Duane’s in this world. I feel like he is setting an example we all need to follow.”


Kyle E. Mitchell Twitter

Kyle E. Mitchell Writings

Kyle E. Mitchell Website

Kyle E. Mitchell GitHub

License Zero

License Zero-Private License

License Zero-Prosperity Public License

License Zero-Parity Public License

Creative Commons License

The Curse of Sustainability

Fernando Pessoa

Open Collective-Meals of Gratitude

FOSS Responders

Bandcamp Daily

Duane O’Brien Twitter

Nick Craig-Wood RClone Library

Support Sustain