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Simple python script to add/replace license headers in a directory tree of source files
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LICENSE.txt Adds support for Robot Framework - .robot only Sep 24, 2019


PyPi version Python compatibility

A tool to update, change or add license headers to all files of any of the supported types (see below) in or below some directory.


usage: licenseheaders [-h] [-V] [-v] [-d DIR] [-b] [-t TMPL] [-y YEARS]
                         [-o OWNER] [-n PROJECTNAME] [-u PROJECTURL]
                         [--enc ENCODING] [--safesubst] [-D]
                         [--additional-extensions ADDITIONAL_EXTENSIONS [ADDITIONAL_EXTENSIONS ...]]

Python license header updater

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -V, --version         show program's version number and exit
  -v, --verbose         increases log verbosity (can be specified 1 to 3
                        times, default shows errors only)
  -d DIR, --dir DIR     The directory to recursively process (default: .).
  -b                    Back up all files which get changed to a copy with
                        .bak added to the name
  -t TMPL, --tmpl TMPL  Template name or file to use.
  -y YEARS, --years YEARS
                        Year or year range to use.
  -o OWNER, --owner OWNER
                        Name of copyright owner to use.
                        Name of project to use.
                        Url of project to use.
  --enc ENCODING        Encoding of program files (default: utf-8)
  --safesubst           Do not raise error if template variables cannot be
  -D                    Enable debug messages (same as -v -v -v)
                        Provide a comma-separated list of additional file
                        extensions as value for a specified language as key,
                        each with a leading dot and no whitespace (default:

Known extensions: ['.java', '.scala', '.groovy', '.jape', '.js', '.sh', '.csh', '.py', '.pl', '.pl', '.robot', '.xml', '.sql', '.c', '.cc', '.cpp', 'c++', '.h', '.hpp', '.rb', '.cs', '.vb', '.erl', '.src', '.config', '.schema']

If -t/--tmpl is specified, that header is added to (or existing header replaced for) all source files of known type
If -t/--tmpl is not specified byt -y/--years is specified, all years in existing header files
  are replaced with the years specified

  # add a lgpl-v3 header and set the variables for year, owner, project and url to the given values
  # process all files in the current directory and below
  licenseheaders -t lgpl-v3 -y 2012-2014 -o ThisNiceCompany -n ProjectName -u
  # only update the year in all existing headers
  # process all files in the current directory and below
  licenseheaders -y 2012-2015
  # only update the year in all existing headers, process the given directory
  licenseheaders -y 2012-2015 -d /dir/where/to/start/
  # apply copyright headers to files specified by their language family + file extensions
  licenseheaders -y 2012-2015 -d /dir/where/to/start/ --additional-extensions python=.j2
  licenseheaders -y 2012-2015 -d /dir/where/to/start/ --additional-extensions python=.j2,.tpl script=.txt

If licenseheaders is installed as a package (from pypi for instance), one can interact with it as a command line tool:

python -m licenseheaders -t lgpl3 -c "Eager Hacker"

or directly:

licenseheaders -t lgpl3 -c "Eager Hacker"


Download from or :

pip install licenseheaders

Template names and files

This library comes with a number of predefined templates. If a template name is specified which when matched against all predefined template names matches exactly one as a substring, then that template is used. Otherwise the name is expected to be the path of file.

If a template does not contain any variables of the form ${varname} it is used as is. Otherwise the program will try to replace the variable from one of the following sources:

  • an environment variable with the same name but the prefix LICENSE_HEADERS_ added
  • the command line option that can be used to set the variable (see usage)

Supported file types and how they are processed

NOTE: You can provide additional file extensions with --additional-extensions cli argument. Note that file extensions which contain multiple dots, e.g. ".py.j2", are not yet supported, use ".j2" at the moment instead.


  • extensions .java, .scala, .groovy, .jape, .js
  • also used for Javascript
  • only headers that use Java block comments are recognised as existing headers
  • the template text will be wrapped in block comments


  • extensions .sh, .csh


  • extension .pl


  • extension .py


  • extension .xml


  • extension .sql


  • extensions .c, .cc, .cpp, .c++, .h, .hpp


  • extension .rb


  • extension .cs


  • extension .vb


  • extensions .erl, .src, .config, .schema


Licensed under the term of MIT License. See file LICENSE.txt.

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