Sarah Thayer: European Union Public Licence

The European Union Public Licence is a GPL-compatible license which was developed specifically for the EU based on unique laws.

  • The European Commission first approved the EUPL on January 9, 2007. However, it was only made available in 3 languages (English, French, and German) and one year later it was approved in all applicable languages of the EU. The last revision came again one year later (they're very official about all of this) on January 9, 2009, which is version 1.1. According to OSUR, the EU needed particular criteria met: None of the existing Open Source licences (more than 100 models exist) was satisfactory regarding a series of criteria:
    • the specificity of Community and Member State's law regarding copyright
    • the specificity of Community and Member State's law regarding warranty and liability issues
    • the specificity of Community and Member State's law regarding applicable law and jurisdiction
    • the requirement to obtain a text legally valid in all the official languages of the European Union.

  • The EUPL is a free software license and is approved by the OSI as of March 2009.
    Note: Evidently Fedora considered v1.0 non-free because of article 13. The only change between article 13 in v1.0 and v1.1 is the addition of this statement in v1.1: "All linguistic versions of this Licence, approved by the European Commission, have identical value. Parties can take advantage of the linguistic version of their choice." Fedora has not updated their website to take the new version into account, so I cannot tell if they approve it or not.
  • It is not compatible with proprietary licenses, as it requires derivative works to be licensed under the EUPL, though an article on how to use the EUPL makes this mildly unclear, as does this grant in section 2: sub-license rights in the Work or copies thereof. The copyleft clause in section 5 seems to clear this up: If the Licensee distributes and/or communicates copies of the Original Works or Derivative Works based upon the Original Work, this Distribution and/or Communication will be done under the terms of this Licence or of a later version of this Licence unless the Original Work is expressly distributed only under this version of the Licence. The Licensee (becoming Licensor) cannot offer or impose any additional terms or conditions on the Work or Derivative Work that alter or restrict the terms of the Licence.
  • The EUPL is compatible with the GNU GPL.

It is unique because it is "the first open source licence to be released by an international governing body" (Wikipedia). It is available and translated into all 22 official languages of the EU, and each version is identical in definition.
Interesting statements within the EUPL:

  • In the countries where moral rights apply, the Licensor waives his right to exercise his moral right to the extent allowed by law in order to make effective the licence of the economic rights here above listed.
  • Except in the cases of wilful misconduct or damages directly caused to natural persons, the Licensor will in no event be liable for...damages for loss of goodwill, work stoppage...However, the Licensor will be liable under statutory product liability laws as far such laws apply to the Work.
  • Regarding termination of the license: Such a termination will not terminate the licences of any person who has received the Work from the Licensee under the Licence, provided such persons remain in full compliance with the Licence. - it is only terminated if it is breached.
  • Applicable Law. Most of the time, the EU will handle litigations. However, This licence shall be governed by the Belgian law if:
    - a litigation arises between the European Commission, as a Licensor, and any Licensee;
    - the Licensor, other than the European Commission, has no residence or registered office inside a European Union country.


  1. European Commission/IDABC
  2. Wikipedia on EUPL
  3. Open Source Observatory and Repository

HFOSS! Humanitarian-FOSS common localisation project (blog post).