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2024-07-25 - 06:00

OSADL Open Source Policy Template: The Basis for License Compliance

Background and goal of the project

The lesson learned from years of supporting our members with Open Source license compliance is that most issues can be handled and most problems be avoided by establishing a company-wide Open Source policy. Such a document aims to make sure that appropriate processes are in place and all employees of a company are safely informed and instructed how to treat Open Source software so license compliance can be achieved.

As different industries and different companies have different requirements on content, form and scope of a compliance policy, OSADL has created a collection of documents that together constitute the OSADL Open Source Policy Template.

Structure of the Open Source Policy Template

This Open Source Policy is not meant to be used as is, but serves as a template from which an individual policy can be created. It contains

  • Template texts for the various chapters of a FOSS policy that can be adapted according to a company’s requirements. These texts are made up of instructions with brief explanations for anyone who reads and implements the FOSS policy.
  • Additional explanations for whoever creates a company’s individual FOSS policy from this template.
  • Ready made text block templates that may be used to modify or extend existing company contracts and other documents, such as employment contracts.
  • A choice of possible options, when there are various possibilities of interpreting or handling a situation.
  • Templates for annexes to a company’s FOSS policy including processes and forms that can be completed to provide legal and other information on projects and products.
  • Supplements for further reading to provide technology background and explain relevant aspects of copyright law and license compliance in more detail.

The policy template consists of one main PDF document that can be filled out according to a company's requirements. Annexes and Supplements are separate PDF files that are linked from the main document.


The original OSADL Open Source Policy Template is written in English language. From version 1.2 onward a German translation of the documents is also available.

Access to the documents

The OSADL Open Source Policy Template can be accessed in two ways:

  1. Employees of OSADL member companies may login to the OSADL website and subsequently download the archive with PDF documents that can be completed individually as described above. Non-members may contact us at infoª to find out more about how to obtain the Policy Template.
  2. Some companies might prefer to customize the policy template more extensively than is possible from the provided PDF template documents. Therefore, a plain text version is available on GitHub to everyone at

Please login using your member access data to display the download link for the OSADL Open Source Policy Template.

Version history

Release no.

Release date




No content changes. Editable fields and check boxes in editable versions were fixed.



Change report:

Policy Master

  • Chapter A Scope: New option 1: Entire corporation
  • Chapter B II. OSCO: New explanation box on multiple OSCOs; template for addition to OSCO work contract
  • Chapter B VIII. Human Resources: New role "HR"
  • Chapter B Responsibilities: Updated the matrix of responsibilities with all new responsibilities and roles
  • Chapter C Communication: Two new options on how to communicate the policy; new item: FOSS in external development (incl. a new Annex, see below)
  • Chapter D Third-party software: New explanation box (first box in this chapter) on differentiating between IT and development software
  • Chapter D IV. Candidate for Use: Clarified differentiation between bought and downloaded software
  • Chapter E Creating FOSS License Information: New option "Legacy arrangement"
  • Chapter E: New Use Cases:
    • Use Case 10: Yocto build system
    • Use Case 11: Container (incl. a new Supplement, see below)
    • Use Case 12: Encryption and GPL (incl. a new Annex, see below)


Annexes and Supplements

  • Updated version of the Compatibility Matrix
  • New Annex "FOSS in external development" with template texts for work contracts with external software developers
  • New Annex "FOSS in Terms and Conditions" with template texts for considering FOSS in company documents
  • New Annex "GPL and Encryption" with template texts for send-in solutions
  • Supplement "How to rebuild": New template for "Build instructions"
  • New Supplement "License compliance for containers and Containerfiles"
  • New Supplement "Third-party rights" on copyright law, patent law and trademark law




Main changes from previous version: Chapter A "Scope" was added, Open Source Build and Release Engineer (OSBRE) and Optional: Open Source Board (OSB) was added to Chapter B "Responsibilities", Annex 3: "BOM" was extended to differentiate distributed components



No content changes. Editable text fields elongated to line length



Main changes from previous version: licensing notice was added, supplement "License compatibility" was created, minor changes to the supplement "How to: Acknowledgments"



First public version



First complete release to project participants and interested parties

Contribution history

The following persons have contributed to the OSADL Open Source Policy Template.







Till Jaeger, Lisa Käde

Review of and contributions to new Annexes and Supplements as listed in change report for v1.3

2021, 2022


OSADL team

Changes and adaptions as listed in the version history.

2019, 2020


Till Jaeger

Review of and contributions to all documents in the first version.

2019, 2020


OSADL team

First complete version of the Open Source Policy Template


Tjaldur Software Governance Solutions

Armijn Hemel

First versions of supplements How to: Acknowledgments and How to rebuild



Till Jaeger

Outline of the Open Source Policy Template


The OSADL Open Source Policy Template is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC-BY-4.0),

© 2019-2021 Open Source Automation Development Lab (OSADL) eG and contributors, infoª

Attribution text

"A project by the Open Source Automation Development Lab (OSADL) eG. For further information about authors and contributors see the contribution history at"