Last Updated: February 25, 2016
· mbrevoort

Choose and specify a license for your open source project!

It's easy to get lost in the subtlety of how important it is to properly license your creation. Specifying a license clearly communicates your intentions and terms as the author.

  1. Choose a license. I prefer MIT or BSD. Please don't use a GPL license if that's not exactly what you want, and know that it significantly impedes the mass use and contribution to your project.

  2. Create a LICENSE file in the base of your project and include the exact license copy with your copyright statement. Do not just include a URL to a license template. It's IMPORTANT that your include the license terms verbatim.

  3. Celebrate! You're part of the open source community. High fives all around.


If your community (e.g. node.js) has a community convention for specifying licenses in addition to the LICENSE file, follow along! For example, the node.js package.json file contains a license property.

3 Responses
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I understand that you prefer MIT or BSD but why should people choose MIT if that's not exactly what you want comparing to the GPL licence? It's all about how you want your work to be shared, right? For example, if you want people to share back into the open source community when making changes to your code, you should probably go with GPL since it's forcing people to share the changes they've made if the distribute something based on it.

over 1 year ago ·

Don't forget that their is the LGPL (which is MIT compatible). This license is basically a much more verbatim version of the MIT, and would be much stronger in court. On top of this there are plenty of licenses out there.

Depending on the project I am working on, I typically switch between using the GPL, the MIT w/ LGPL, the MIT, & the WTFPL. The GPL is the most restrictive and WFTPL has no restrictions at all.

Many people think that by not adding a license, they are allowing anyone to use it. This is actually completely untrue, as these works are legal considered unusable until long after the author is dead.

See this article for more: click me

over 1 year ago ·

Don't forget my personal favourite license


over 1 year ago ·