Threnodic Ethically Scoped License Agreement

The Threnodic Ethically Scoped License Agreement, henceforth also referred to as the TESLA, was developed to fill the need for a copyfree license that does not limit itself in its intended application to software or any other particular content form and came with a patent license grant. It is intended to be understandable to the layman while still providing adequate legal protection and clarity for the terms of the license.

If you would prefer a simpler license without a patent clause, have a look at the OWL.

In Brief:

This license is intended to roughly mimic the "public domain" (a legal concept particular to certain jurisdictions) while ensuring that no restrictive copyright claims are enforced and providing a patent license grant for patents held by contributors that might otherwise be infringed by the covered work.

In general, you may redistribute, modify, copy, use, fold, spindle, and mutilate any work covered by the TESLA as desired, provided you include the text of the TESLA with it, granting any recipients of the work (or a derivative work) the same rights and privileges.


As with any copyfree license, the TESLA is designed so that it should be effectively self-enforcing in the general case. This is because it serves more properly as a defense of the possessor against restrictive copyright enforcement than an assertion of legal rights for the copyright holder. Even if, in violation of the license terms, a distributor fails to provide notice of the TESLA's terms, the fact that the material was initially distributed under these terms should allow use of the TESLA as defense against spurious claims of copyright infringement by license violating distributors.

In cases of plagiarism, which should also apply to cases of redistribution of the work (modified or unmodified) without notice of the TESLA's terms, the appropriate jurisdiction's legal provisions for addressing such misrepresentation should be sufficient to settle disputes over licensing, even if effective enforcement of open source license terms are impractical due to the difficulty of proving material damage in civil proceedings.

The above is not intended as legal advice. It merely serves to explain the intent of the design of the TESLA with regard to enforcement options.


The TESLA is designed to serve as a means of encouraging the distribution and use of the covered material -- even within larger projects that are distributed under the terms of other licenses. Weak heritability copyfree licenses such as the TESLA are suitable for works whose widespread adoption and use are desirable, such as in cases where the concept or work is more important to be shared widely than the license terms themselves, or when it is believed that strong license terms heritability may hinder the adoption or distribution of the work significantly by virtue of its "viral" nature.

Its use is also encouraged for those who do not much care what happens to their works once released, who wish such intent to be made clear for any form of copyrightable content in any jurisdiction.


The Open Works License, or OWL, should provide copyright licensing protections equivalent to the TESLA, but the continued popularity of bureaucratically encumbered "permissive" licenses such as the Apache License 2.0 due largely to the inclusion of a patent license grant in the license prompted the development of a simple, copyfree license with strong patent license grant conditions. The result is the TESLA.