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Like a Choose Your Own Adventure site, but only much less interesting.


A lot of repositories on don't have a license. GitHub provides a license chooser, but if you don't know anything about licenses, how are you supposed to make an informed decision? is designed to help people make an informed decision about licenses by demystifying license choices through non-judgmental guidance.

Immediate Goals

  • Non-judgmental. Our goal is to help you find a license that meets your goals.
  • Well designed, but that goes without saying.
  • The homepage should have just enough to help 99% of folks make a decision.
  • For the 1%, the site will contain a list of licenses common to specific communities and situations.
  • Not comprehensive. Seems like an odd goal, but there are a bajillion licenses out there. We're going to have to filter that down to a small list of those that matter.

Run It On Your Machine

git clone

Open http://localhost:4000 in your favorite browser.

Adding a license

For information on adding a license, see the CONTRIBUTING file.

License metadata

Licenses sit in the /_licenses folder. Each license has YAML front matter describing the license's properties. The body of the file contains the text of the license in plain text. The available metadata fields are:

Required fields

  • title - The license full name specified by
  • spdx-id - Short identifier specified by
  • source - The URL to the license source text
  • description - A human-readable description of the license
  • how - Instructions on how to implement the license
  • permissions - Bulleted list of permission rules
  • conditions - Bulleted list of condition rules
  • limitations - Bulleted list of limitation rules

Optional fields

  • featured - Whether the license should be featured on the main page (defaults to false)
  • hidden - Whether the license is hidden from the license list (defaults to true)
  • nickname - Customary short name if applicable (e.g, GPLv3)
  • note - Additional information about the licenses
  • using - A list of up to 3 notable projects using the license with straightforward LICENSE files which serve as examples newcomers can follow and that can be detected by licensee in the form of project_name: license_file_url
  • redirect_from - Relative path(s) to redirect to the license from, to prevent breaking old URLs

Auto-populated fields

The licenses on are regularly imported to to be used as the list of licenses available when creating a repository. When we create a repository, we will replace certain strings in the license with variables from the repository. These can be used to create accurate copyright notices. The available variables are:


  • fullname - The full name or username of the repository owner
  • login - The repository owner's username
  • email - The repository owner's primary email address
  • project - The repository name
  • description - The description of the repository
  • year - The current year

License properties

The license properties (rules) are stored as a bulleted list within the licenses YAML front matter. Each rule has a name e.g., include-copyright, a human-readable label, e.g., Copyright inclusion, and a description Include the original copyright with the code. To add a new rule, simply add it to _data/rules.yml and reference it in the appropriate license.



  • commercial-use - This software and derivatives may be used for commercial purposes.
  • modifications - This software may be modified.
  • distribution - You may distribute this software.
  • private-use - You may use and modify the software without distributing it.
  • patent-use - This license provides an express grant of patent rights from the contributor to the recipient.


  • include-copyright - Include a copy of the license and copyright notice with the code.
  • document-changes - Indicate changes made to the code.
  • disclose-source - Source code must be made available when distributing the software.
  • network-use-disclose - Users who interact with the software via network are given the right to receive a copy of the corresponding source code.
  • same-license - Modifications must be released under the same license when distributing the software. In some cases a similar or related license may be used.


  • trademark-use - This license explicitly states that it does NOT grant you trademark rights, even though licenses without such a statement probably do not grant you any implicit trademark rights.
  • no-liability - Software is provided without warranty and the software author/license owner cannot be held liable for damages.
  • patent-use - This license explicitly states that it does NOT grant you any rights in the patents of contributors.


The content of this project itself is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, and the underlying source code used to format and display that content is licensed under the MIT license.

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