License Zero

sustainable software in the open

Peer Licensing Implemented sustainable software through licensing, simplified

Over the past 24 hours, License Zero has transitioned from a private licensing model focused on site licenses for companies to a model focused exclusively on developers licensing their developer peers. That’s taken changes in license terms, in the API, the command-line interface, and the developer’s guide.

The simplifying effect of the change reverberated throughout the system. The command-line interface no longer needs to track company, client, and personal licensee identities. The developer’s guide can now speak to all developers involved with the system, both developer-contributors and developer-users, in one voice. There is just one form of private license, not four, one for each tier.

Special thanks to all who weighed in on this change, from inception through implementation. The thanks page on is ever growing. I’ll keep adding folks as they give the OK.

Of course, there’s plenty of work still to do:

First, while License Zero will focus on automating the peer licensing process going forward, I also want to provide documentation—terms and a quote template—as a starting point for individually negotiated site licenses. These deals would allow contributors to sell private licenses to companies, who can in turn pass them on to in-house developers. License Zero already provides similar documentation for closing relicensing deals off the platform, for many of the same reasons.

In software, it’s widely held that sellers should never put a public price on their “enterprise” offerings. License Zero broke that rule, as originally implemented. As contributors explore selling site licenses off the License Zero platform, I expect they’ll be able to negotiate pricing with more flexibility, and achieve better results. Those higher-priced transactions will better avoid License Zero, its commission, and associated Stripe payment processing fees.

Second, I’d like to create a place, perhaps in the guide, to bring together wisdom and experience in expensing private licenses, and otherwise passing their cost on to employers and paying clients. Unlike donations or payments for rewards, as on Patreon, fees for private licenses through License Zero will often be must-dos, rather than nice-to-dos. That makes a strong case for reimbursement, as with license fees for IDEs, proprietary libraries, and other tools used at work.