Online / 6 & 7 February 2021



Best practices for declaring copyright and licenses

Why is it so hard to detect the licensing and copyright information of source code? Because it is a tedious and often confusing task for developers to provide this information. The REUSE project changes that! With three simple steps, it makes adding and reading licensing and copyright information easy for both humans and machines. This presentation will guide you through the REUSE best practices and presents how to make clear licensing simple.

In 2017, the FSFE started the REUSE initiative. The main goal is to make it easier for developers to declare the licensing and copyright situation for their code. Especially in common scenarios where a repository contains code from various sources under different licenses with multiple copyright holders, it often becomes complex for everyone who wants to legally reuse code.

Therefore, REUSE provides best practices that aim to be compatible with already existing recommendations and still cover also complex projects and their edge cases. The result is that for a REUSE compatible repository, every single file in some way carries information about its license and copyright holder(s), with the full license text(s) available.

To make adoption as easy as possible, REUSE offers tools and accompanying documentation. Thanks to this, we already see hundreds of projects being REUSE compliant already. The more projects follow the best practices, the easier developers can reuse their code safely and thereby contribute to a system in which you do not need a lawyer to license your code.


Photo of Max Mehl Max Mehl