Explaining my software license to customers/users


My software comes with the standard Apache 2.0 License which covers our bases pretty well while providing flexibility for us and our customers to use/modify the software to their needs.

I have found that many customers/users simply will not read the included license either because it's "legalease" or they have little interest in such things. I would like to help my customers/users better understand their software rights and privileges that are afforded them under my license, and have been thinking about including a "layman's breakdown of the license" . This would essentially summarize the main points and the overall spirit of the license but in a more friendly non-leagalease fashion so that it is much more consumable by my average user/customer.

Is this ok to do? I'm worried that my summarization could be used to fight my original license since it would not be real legalease and may miss or skip over some important legal parts that are otherwise not relevant for a user to simply understand what they can and cannot do with the software. Would my summarization require a legal disclaimer notice too (being ironic in itself)?

Software Contract License

asked Apr 18 '13 at 01:34
Snake Doc
179 points

2 Answers


What makes you think your users will be any more interested in reading your summary than they are in reading your license?

You should talk to an attorney before doing this- your summary license could be used to fight or alter your actual license.

answered Apr 18 '13 at 01:47
Gary E
12,510 points
  • That was my greatest fear. Thanks for confirming it. I'll just steer clear of a summarization. My thought was a summary the size of a paragraph was far more attractive than a several page license written in legalease and all caps, etc. – Snake Doc 8 years ago


If you are going to provide a summary, then you need to make sure it is accurate. If you say one thing in the summary, then another in the full license then you are bound to cause confusion which will lead to problems.

I would be tempted to word it so as to make it clear that this is just a summary, and that usage of the software constitutes acceptance of the FULL license terms, such as:

-- License Terms Summary --

  • You may use this software only for private use
  • You may NOT use this software for commercial use

For full license terms and conditions, please click here. By continuing to use this software, you agree to be bound by the full license terms and conditions (available here)

However, as always check with a lawyer.
answered Apr 19 '13 at 21:59
Gavin Coates
248 points

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Software Contract License