A Ruby gem to cache and verify the licenses of dependencies
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Licensed caches the licenses of dependencies and checks their status.

Licensed is available as a Ruby gem for Ruby environments, and as a self-contained executable for non-Ruby environments.

Licensed is not a complete open source license compliance solution. Please understand the important disclaimer below to make appropriate use of Licensed.

Current Status

Build Status

Licensed is in active development and currently used at GitHub. See the open issues for a list of potential work.


With a Gemfile

Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'licensed', :group => 'development'

And then execute:

$ bundle

As an executable

Download a package from GitHub and extract the executable. Executable packages are available for each release starting with version 1.2.0.

$ curl -sSL https://github.com/github/licensed/releases/download/<version>/licensed-<version>-<os>-x64.tar.gz > licensed.tar.gz
$ tar -xzf licensed.tar.gz
$ rm -f licensed.tar.gz
$ ./licensed list

For system wide usage, install licensed to a location on $PATH, e.g. /usr/local/bin.


Licensed uses the the libgit2 bindings for Ruby provided by rugged. rugged has its own dependencies - cmake and pkg-config - which you may need to install before you can install Licensed.

For example, on macOS with Homebrew: brew install cmake pkg-config and on Ubuntu: apt-get install cmake pkg-config.


  • licensed list: Output enumerated dependencies only.

  • licensed cache: Cache licenses and metadata.

  • licensed status: Check status of dependencies' cached licenses. For example:

$ bundle exec licensed status
Checking licenses for 3 dependencies


  - license needs reviewed: mit.

  - cached license data missing

  - license needs reviewed: mit.
  - cached license data out of date

3 dependencies checked, 3 warnings found.
  • licensed version: Show current installed version of Licensed. Aliases: -v|--version


All commands, except version, accept a -c|--config option to specify a path to a configuration file or directory.

If a directory is specified, licensed will look in that directory for a file named (in order of preference):

  1. .licensed.yml
  2. .licensed.yaml
  3. .licensed.json

If the option is not specified, the value will be set to the current directory.

See the configuration file documentation for more details on the configuration format.


Dependencies will be automatically detected for all of the following sources by default.

  1. Bower (bower)
  2. Bundler (rubygem)
  3. Cabal (cabal)
  4. Go (go)
  5. Go Dep (dep)
  6. Manifest lists (manifests)
  7. NPM (npm)
  8. Pip (pip)
  9. Git Submodules (git_submodule)

You can disable any of them in the configuration file:

  rubygem: false
  npm: false
  bower: false
  cabal: false


To get started after checking out the repo, run

  1. script/bootstrap to install dependencies
  2. script/setup to setup test fixtures.
  • script/setup -f will force a clean test fixture environment
  1. script/cibuild to run the tests.

You can also run script/console for an interactive prompt that will allow you to experiment.

To install this gem onto your local machine, run bundle exec rake install. To release a new version, update the version number in version.rb, and then run bundle exec rake release, which will create a git tag for the version, push git commits and tags, and push the .gem file to rubygems.org.

Adding sources

When adding new dependency sources, ensure that script/bootstrap scripting and tests are only run if the required tooling is available on the development machine.

  • See script/bootstrap for examples of gating scripting based on whether tooling executables are found.
  • Use Licensed::Shell.tool_available? when writing test files to gate running a test suite when tooling executables aren't available.
if Licensed::Shell.tool_available?('bundle')
  describe Licensed::Source::Bundler do


Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at https://github.com/github/licensed. This project is intended to be a safe, welcoming space for collaboration, and contributors are expected to adhere to the Contributor Covenant code of conduct. See CONTRIBUTING for more details.


Licensed is not a complete open source license compliance solution. Like any bug, licensing issues are far cheaper to fix if found early. Licensed is intended to provide automation around documenting the licenses of dependencies and whether they are configured to be allowed by a user of licensed, in other words, to surface the most obvious licensing issues early.

Licensed is not a substitute for human review of each dependency for licensing or any other issues. It is not the goal of Licensed or GitHub, Inc. to provide legal advice about licensing or any other issues. If you have any questions regarding licensing compliance for your code or any other legal issues relating to it, it’s up to you to do further research or consult with a professional.


The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.