APSL-2.0: Balancing Open Source Freedom and Apple’s Interests – Explained

The Apple Public Source License, Version 2.0 (APSL-2.0), is a unique open-source license developed by Apple Inc. to govern the use, modification, and distribution of software. Introduced as a successor to the original APSL-1.0, the APSL-2.0 aims to strike a balance between the principles of open-source software and protecting Apple’s interests. In this article, we explore the key features and implications of the APSL-2.0 license.

Key Features of APSL-2.0:

  1. Open Source Principles: The APSL-2.0 embraces open-source principles, granting users the freedom to use, modify, and distribute the licensed software. Developers can access and contribute to the source code, fostering collaboration and innovation within the software community.
  2. CopyLeft Provision: APSL-2.0 is classified as a “Weak Copyleft” or “CopyLeft” license, meaning that derivative works must be distributed under the same license terms. When developers create modifications or derivative works based on APSL-2.0-licensed software, they are obligated to release those changes under the APSL-2.0 license.
  3. Patent Rights: The APSL-2.0 includes provisions related to patents. By using or distributing APSL-2.0-licensed software, users implicitly accept a patent license from the copyright holders, ensuring that any necessary patents for using or distributing the software are granted.
  4. Distribution of Source Code: When distributing software under APSL-2.0, developers must make the corresponding source code available to the public. This enables transparency and allows others to inspect, modify, and learn from the codebase.
  5. Endorsement Clause: The APSL-2.0 includes a clause preventing developers from using Apple’s name, trademarks, or endorsements to promote or endorse derivative works. This ensures that the Apple brand is not associated with software beyond the original distribution.

APSL-2.0 Implications for Developers:

  1. Complying with CopyLeft: Developers who create derivative works based on APSL-2.0-licensed software must ensure that they release their modifications under the same APSL-2.0 license. This is a critical aspect of APSL-2.0, as it upholds the ethos of open-source software and encourages the sharing of improvements within the community.
  2. Distribution Obligations: When distributing software under APSL-2.0, developers must provide access to the corresponding source code. This ensures that users have the same freedoms as the original license holder, promoting transparency and accountability in software distribution.
  3. Trademark Usage: Developers should be cautious about using Apple’s trademarks or endorsements in association with their derivative works. The APSL-2.0 explicitly prohibits such usage, and developers must ensure their software stands on its own merits without implying any official association with Apple.
  4. Compatibility Considerations: Developers considering using APSL-2.0-licensed software in their projects should carefully assess the license’s compatibility with other licenses. Since APSL-2.0 is a copy-left license, it may impose restrictions on how the combined software can be distributed and whether other licenses can be used.


The Apple Public Source License, Version 2.0 (APSL-2.0), represents Apple Inc.’s approach to open-source licensing. It combines the principles of open-source software with provisions to safeguard Apple’s interests and brand identity. By releasing software under APSL-2.0, Apple encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing while maintaining control over the use of its trademarks and endorsements. Developers interested in using or contributing to APSL-2.0-licensed projects should carefully review the license terms and consider how it aligns with their project goals and the broader open-source community.

If you’re interested in exploring a comprehensive list of various open-source licenses and their details, feel free to check out our guide to “Open Source Licenses : A Guide To Software Licensing“. Happy licensing!


  1. Apple Inc. “Apple Public Source License, Version 2.0 (APSL-2.0).” Open Source Initiative.
  2. Apple Inc. “Apple Public Source License, Version 2.0 (APSL-2.0).” TLDRLegal.

Please note that these references were used to gather information about the APSL-2.0 license and its implications. Readers are encouraged to refer to the original license text and consult legal experts for a comprehensive understanding of the APSL-2.0 license and its application.

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