The European Union Public Licence (“EUPL”) is an open source licence approved by the European Commission in 2007, which was specifically designed to adapt it to the legal framework of the European Union.

European Union Public License: una gran opción para proyectos de código abierto desarrollados en la UE  

Why was it needed?

Free/open source software licences originated in the United States. Thus, the common-law system has influenced the wording of the first open source licences and later licences. This has made the interpretation and application of the clauses of such licences within the framework of continental European copyright law problematic in some cases.

For example, one of the most significant differences between these two systems is that all rights of the owner of a work are transferable to third parties under US copyright law, whereas continental copyright law does not permit the transfer of the moral rights in the work, which are inalienable and inherent to the author.

The European Commission issued a study on open source licences for software developed by the Commission at the end of 2004, which highlighted that the existing licences at that point in time did not satisfy certain requirements for the European institutions. Specifically, the issues concerned a lack of specification of applicable legislation and jurisdiction, warranty and liability disclaimers, copyright terminology not adapted in line with European practice, and legal validity in different languages.

Therefore, notwithstanding the large number of open source licences available (more than 300), the European Commission could not find any licence that was suitably adapted to the developments it wanted to carry out and it opted to create the EUPL. The first version was published in 2007, and in 2009 the Open Source Initiative (OSI) certified it as an “open source” licence, having deemed it in compliance with its principles.

The latest version of the EUPL, version 1.2, was updated by means of the Commission’s Implementing Decision (EU) 2017/863 of 18 May 2017, which may be accessed via the following link.

Access the full document on open source licenses.


Author: Agustín Alguacil

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