[Insight-users] Can ITK be used in Commercial Products ? : Answer: YES !

Luis Ibanez luis.ibanez at kitware.com
Thu Aug 21 13:41:20 EDT 2008

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your detailed question.

Here are some comments:


    Can ITK be used in commercial software?
    If so, what are the conditions of use?



    ITK is by design, intended to be usable in
    commercial products, free of royalties.

    There are only three conditions that you must
    satisfy in order to be able to use ITK:

    They are listed in the BSD License:


    They are:

    1) Do not remove copyright notices from
       the source files.

    2) If you redistribute ITK in binary form
       (e.g. compiled libraries) please add
       a text file with the copyright notice
       and license terms.

    3) Don't use the name of the Insight Software
       Consortium to endorse your products.

    They are quite easy to follow.

    As you pointed out, condition #2 is sometimes
    confusing. The simplest way to satisfy this
    condition is to have a menu option in your
    program "About...", where you list that ITK
    is used inside, and cite that the copyright
    is owned by the Insight Software Consortium,
    and that the source code of ITK is available
    under a BSD License.

    If you are simply redistributing a DLL, then
    you need to add a text file to it with the
    copyright and license terms. A convention is
    to name this file LICENSE.txt or COPYRIGHT.txt

    This will not conflict with condition #3, because
    just the listing of the use of ITK doesn't imply
    an endorsement of your software.

    What condition #3 is intended to prevent is a
    notice of the type:

       "Here is my fabulous eyeball segmentation
        program, which is recommended by the
        Insight Software Consortium".

    That's is the type of message that condition #3
    wants to forbid.

   Please let us know if you have any other
   licensing question,



Dan Mueller wrote:
> Hi Luis,
> The article you forwarded highlights an issue I have been struggling
> to understand regarding ITK's license. Perhaps you (or someone else on
> the mailing list) can clarify my following questions:
>     Can ITK be used in commercial software?
>     If so, what are the conditions of use?
>>From my understanding the answers are as follows;
>     please correct me if I am wrong.
>>Can ITK be used in commercial software?
> Yes, so long as the license is respected.
>>If so, what are the conditions of use?
> The three points of the new-BSD license. But what do they actually
> mean in everyday language?
>>Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
> This one seems pretty straight forward. If you distribute the source
> code, you must keep the copyright header intact.
>>Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
> This one I struggle with. Does this mean, for instance, in an About
> window you must display the copyright information? What if you create
> a Windows DLL using ITK, does the copyright field in the embedded
> manifest need to include "Copyright (c) 1999-2008 Insight Software
> Consortium"? Or is this item just talking about documentation eg.
> training manuals, doxygen pages? Are sales brochures considered
> documentation? If so, wouldn't this conflict with the last item below?
>>3. Neither the name of the Insight Software Consortium nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.
> This one seems pretty straight forward also (except for my question above).
> Is there a nice webpage/article/book describing what the new-BSD
> license actually means in practice?
> Thanks for any advice.
> Regards, Dan
> 2008/8/15 Luis Ibanez <luis.ibanez at kitware.com>:
>>Legal milestone for open source
>>By Maggie Shiels
>>Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley
>>Giving up some rights means you still have protection under the law
>>Advocates of open source software have hailed a court ruling protecting
>>its use even though it is given away free.
>>The US federal appeals court move overturned a lower court decision
>>involving free software used in model trains that a hobbyist put online.
>>The court has now said conditions of an agreement called the Artistic
>>Licence were enforceable under copyright law.
>>"In non-technical terms, the Court has held that free licences set
>>conditions on the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the
>>condition, the licence disappears, meaning you're simply a copyright
>>          "This is a very important victory."
>>According to details outlined in the ruling, Robert Jacobsen had written
>>and then released code under an Artistic Licence. This meant anyone
>>using that free code had to attribute the author, highlight the original
>>source of the files and explain how the code had been modified.
>>Mr Jacobsen, who manages open source software group Java Model Railroad
>>Interface, accused commercial software developer Matthew Katzer and his
>>company of ignoring the terms of the Artistic Licence when they took his
>>code and used it to develop commercial software products for trains.
>>An earlier court ruling did not agree with Mr Jacobsen's stance that Mr
>>Katzer and his company had infringed his copyright and said the licence
>>Mr Jacobsen used was "intentionally broad." Instead the court ruled he
>>might be able to claim breach of contract.
>>Legal experts have said the distinction is important since under federal
>>copyright law a plaintiff can seek statutory damages and can be more
>>easily granted an injunction than under contract law.
>>But now the US appeals court "determined that the terms of the Artistic
>>License are enforceable copyright conditions".
>>"Copyright holders who engage in open source licensing have the right to
>>control the modification and distribution of copyrighted materials,"
>>Judge Jeffrey White wrote in his 15-page decision.
>>"Open source licensing has become a widely used method of creative
>>collaboration that serves to advance the arts and sciences in a manner
>>and at a pace few could have imagined just a few decades ago," Judge
>>White said
>>The ruling has implications for the Creative Commons licence which
>>offers ways for work to go into the public domain and still be
>>protected. These licenses are widely used by academic organisations like
>>MIT for distributing coursework, scientific groups, artists, movie
>>makers and Wikipedia among others.
>>"This opinion demonstrates a strong understanding of a basic economic
>>principle of the internet; that even though money doesn't change hands,
>>attribution is a valuable economic right in the information economy."
>>He told the Wall Street Journal: "Lots of companies rely on open source,
>>and if they had lost their ability to enforce their rights they would
>>have shied away from the software."
>>Insight-users mailing list
>>Insight-users at itk.org

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