OpenBVE is a program with at times a somewhat complex history in terms of copyright and licencing. This page is a brief attempt to explain the current position.

The original licence text was simply the following:

This program is placed in the public domain. This means that you can make any modifications to it you like and share your modifications with others.

Further clarification from the original authors in the form of quotes from the discussion surrounding this licence and it’s implications may be found here:

Unfortunately, over time development stalled, and the original team & websites became un-available. In 2015, this ‘fork’ was started in an attempt to port to fix some of the outstanding issues and port to newer technologies.

The decision was taken as a small project (and the only active / available fork!) to attempt to retain the OpenBVE name and licence / project aims wherever possible.

The ‘public domain’ licence is perhaps the most problematic of these- In and of itself, ‘public domain’ is a somewhat nebulous concept, and for that matter not recognised in some legal juridistictions. On the other hand, Michelle as the greatest single contributor to the original codebase was clearly against some of the implications of more conventional licencing (see link above), and as there has been no response to attempts to contact her, the current development team has made the decision that this should be respected wherever possible.

In practice, this means that we have kept the original ‘public domain’ licence as applying to the codebase in general and our documentation etc. However, for practical reasons we also accept code contributions, and use / link to third-party libraries which are licenced under loose permissive libraries such as BSD-2 and similar. Third-party licences applying to libraries and contributed code may be found here:


The other question we’re often asked is what we don’t re-licence the project in it’s entirety to something like BSD-2?

Again, this is a somewhat complex question to answer, and it’s not something we have an easy answer to.

With this in mind, all current contributors (and all prior contributors other than Michelle) have been contacted, and haved agreed in principle to a potential re-licence to BSD-2. Whilst Michelle’s statements as to the status of the code and her wishes (again refer to the link above) seem clear and unambiguous that we could do this, is that enough?

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that we ‘inherited’ a project with a public domain licence, and the question becomes whether we have the moral right to change this.

At the present time, we do not intend to pursue this route.


The initial versions of OpenBVE were developed by a three person team-

  • Michelle Boucquemont (michelle)
  • Anthony Bowden (anthony_b)
  • Jens Rügenhagen (odakyufan)

A list of current contributors to this project may be found here (This list is automatically generated by GitHub):

Further information on contributing code may be found here: