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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.

Licensed v2

Licensed v2 includes many internal changes intended to make licensed more extensible and easier to update in the future. While not too much has changed externally, v2 is incompatible with configuration files and cached records from previous versions. Fortunately, migrating is easy using the licensed migrate command.

See for more details on what's changed. See the migration documentation for more info on migrating to v2, or run licensed help migrate.



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


sudo apt-get install cmake pkg-config


brew install cmake pkg-config

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<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 list: Output enumerated dependencies only.
  • licensed cache: Cache licenses and metadata.
  • licensed status: Check status of dependencies' cached licenses.
  • licensed notices: Write a NOTICE file for each application configuration.
  • licensed version: Show current installed version of Licensed. Aliases: -v|--version
  • licensed env: Output environment information from the licensed configuration.

See the commands documentation for additional documentation, or run licensed -h to see all of the current available commands.



The bundler-licensed plugin runs licensed cache automatically when using bundler. See the linked repo for usage and details.

GitHub Actions

The licensed-ci GitHub Action runs licensed as part of an opinionated CI workflow and can be configured to run on any GitHub Action event. See the linked actions for usage and details.

The setup-licensed GitHub Action installs licensed to the workflow environment. See the linked actions for usage and details.

  • This action is intended for projects that don't have a ruby installation setup. If your workflow has ruby setup please install licensed via Gemfile + bundle install or with gem install.


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
  2. Bundler
  3. Cabal
  4. Composer
  5. Git Submodules (git_submodule)
  6. Go
  7. Go Dep (dep)
  8. Gradle
  9. Manifest lists (manifests)
  10. Mix
  11. NPM
  12. NuGet
  13. Pip
  14. Pipenv
  15. Yarn

You can disable any of them in the configuration file:

  bundler: 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

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

See the documentation on adding new sources for more information.

Adding Commands

See the documentation on commands for information about adding a new CLI command.


Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at 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.

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