Do you have expertise or experience to share on what software license can be used to share a model created in ArcGIS ModelBuilder to ensure that it is free to use, or used for non commercial purposes.

I am currently looking at the GPL v3 license, but since the model is based on using ArcGIS software I am not sure if this is appropriate.


I should have added for clarity. We wish that although the Models are free to use that there is the ability to restrict commercial use (which may then be under a different license) We wish to be able to ensure that any edits or improvements to the Models are also made available and free to use.

  • "Free to use" and "non-commercial use" are different conditions. Most "best" questions are unsuitable for GIS.SE because they are opinion-based. The details of various open licensing schemes are probably better suited to Stack Overflow.
    – Vince
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 11:36

2 Answers 2


I looked for the licensing applied at the Analysis and Geoprocessing Tool Gallery (which evolved from ArcScripts) and came across its Access and use constraints page:

The content available through the ArcGIS.com website is typically available at no cost for your personal or noncommercial use. As a content owner or publisher, you determine how an item can or cannot be used.


One option for describing your content's access and use constraints and simplifying use by others is to use a predefined license from Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that standardizes ways to grant copyright permissions to creative work. Choose the Creative Commons license that matches the rights you want to reserve with your content and reference the license type on your item details page.

I think Creative Commons licenses will be worth you investigating, if you have not already.

  • That is great, i will investigate. I had missed that as we were thinking of distributing the Toolkit directly. I was surprised they advise on the Creative Commons because I believe that assumes full free to use software, whereas the Model Builder models will only work with ArcGIS. e.g. My current understanding is the Creative Commons license would be suitable for e.g. Python code as a stand alone product, whereas a different license might be best for ModelBuilder Tools. I have added some more info to the question above for clarity, as i forgot to mention our aims r.e future development.
    – user21053
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 8:47

I have recently received advice from another source, so i will add it here as a possible answer.

I was advised that the LGPLv3 Lesser General Public License might be appropriate as this specifically allows for the fact that ModelBuilder requires commercial software to run, even thought they have been built by the developer and will be free to use.

I will investigate the Creative Common licenses further, although I was advised there is a note on the CC website that advises they are often not suitable for software.

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