Defining The Terms
Type Freedom Openness Neutrality Compromise
Software Free software Open source Software libre F/OSS or FLOSS
Content Free cultural work, free content Open content Libre content F/OCC or FLOCC

FLOSS: Free, libre and open source software.

F/OSS: Free/open source software.

Libre: A libre work is one where copies (both duplicates and derivatives) can be made of the work without the copyright holder's permission. Some conditions can be imposed on making of the copies, but these conditions cannot limit the content of the copy or the way in which it is distributed.

Shareable Resource: Shareable resources are works under Creative Commons licences or, more broadly, all libre and proprietary content.


FSF-approved licence: The Free Software Foundation approves licences which are compatible with the four software freedoms, even if those licences are not intended for use with software. Most FSF-approved licences are libre licences.1

Free software licence: All free software licences are libre, but not all libre licences are free software licences (a licence must be designed specifically for software to qualify).2

Free software: Free software is a synonym of libre software.

Do not confuse free software (which is free-as-in-speech) with gratis software or freeware (which are free-as-in-beer) nor with shareware (which grants some freedoms, but not the right to modify or sell the work).

Free culture licence: A free culture licence is a libre licence.3

Free culture work: Free cultural works must be under a libre licence, but also meet four further definitions which ensure that no one's access to the work is limited.4

Free content/information: A synonym of free cultural work.5


OSI-approved licence: The Open Source Initiative approves licences which are compatible with the Open Source Definition. So far, all such licences seem to be designed for software. <>

Open source licence: All open source licences are libre, but not all libre licences are open source licences (a licence must be designed specifically for software to qualify).

Open source: Open source software is a synonym of libre software. However, open source can also be used to describe non-software libre as well. For example, Creative Commons Attribution qualifies as an open source licence though it is not recommended for software licensing.

Do not confuse open source (which is not prescriptive) with open-by-rule or the four opens (which are prescriptive) nor with opposition to open core and exclusive content (which are compatible with open source). Open source has a complicated relationship with 'open content', 'open culture', 'open knowledge', 'open education', 'open data', 'open access' and 'open gaming'.6

Open service/open software service: Online software services are considered open services if the data of the service is open knowledge (except for personal data which must be available to the relevant individual), the source code is libre and the source code is available to those who use the service.

Open knowledge: Open knowledge is a synonym of libre knowledge. It includes libre content, data and information.7

Open content: There is disagreement about whether open content is a synonym of libre content (as Open Definition alleges) or whether semi-libre and pseudo-libre (or semi-libre but not pseudo-libre) content qualifies as well as described in the Open Source Media Definition.

Open data: Open data has not been strictly defined. Libre data certainly qualifies, but so too may semi-libre and pseudo-libre data. Open data is more of a statement of principles or best practice rather than a clear label that can be applied to a piece of research.

Open access: Open access describes works which can be accessed online without restriction. A libre work which is not readily accessible qualifies (at least until someone makes it accessible) while a non-libre work which is gratis and publicly-available would.

Open publishing: Open publishing describes a transparent process of creating content, where editorial decisions are visible for all and anyone can submit content for consideration. The copyright status of those works, however, could be libre or proprietary.

Open-by-rule: Open-by-rule describes a software development process which is meritocratic, oligarchic and transparent.8

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License