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A site to provide non-judgmental guidance on choosing a license for your open source project
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Merge pull request #227 from shinnn/gh-pages

Change variable names of Google Analytics tracking code
latest commit ecda3577b3
@benbalter benbalter authored

Choose a License Web Site Build Status

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.

Immediate Goals

  • Non-partisan. 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

The text of the license should be wrapped to a 78 character width.

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

  • title - The name of the license
  • layout - This should be license
  • permalink - The absolute URL to the license, beginning with /licenses/
  • source - URL to the license source text
  • note - The note field in the sidebar (optional)
  • how - How to use the license, also in the sidebar
  • required, permitted, forbidden - bulleted list of rules applicable to the license (see below)
  • filename - The filename to be created on when a repository is initialized with this license.

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


Rules (the license's properties) are stored as a bulleted list within the licenses YAML front matter. A full list of rules can be found in _data/rules.yml. 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.


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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