Publish with an open license
- All code and documentation MUST be licensed such that it may be freely reusable, changeable and redistributable.
- Software source code MUST be licensed under an OSI-approved open source license.
- All code MUST be published with a license file.
- Contributors MUST NOT be required to transfer copyright of their contributions to the codebase.
- All source code files in the codebase SHOULD include a copyright notice and a license header that are machine readable.
- Codebases MAY have multiple licenses for different types of code and documentation.
Why this is important
- Makes it possible for anyone to see the code and know that they can and how they can reuse it.
What this does not do
- Prevent use of the code by any specific actors.
How to test
- There is at least 1 license file present in the codebase, usually called
- The license for the source code is on the OSI-approved Open Source license list and the license for documentation is conformant to the Open Definition.
- Check for machine-readable licenses with tools like Licensee or REUSE.
Policy makers: what you need to do
- Develop policy that requires code to be open source.
- Develop policy that disincentivizes non-open source code and technology in procurement.
Management: what you need to do
- Only work with open source vendors that deliver their code by publishing it under an open source license.
- Beware that even though Creative Commons licenses are great for documentation, licenses that stipulate Non-Commercial or No Derivatives are NOT freely reusable, changeable and redistributable and don’t fulfill these requirements.
Developers and designers: what you need to do
- Add a new
licensefile to every new codebase created.
- Add a copyright notice and a license header to every new source code file created.
- Open source definition by the Open Source Initiative - all open source licenses meet this definition.
- Animated video introduction to Creative Commons by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.
- REUSE Initiative specification for unambiguous, human-readable and machine-readable copyright and licensing information.
- SPDX License List with standardized, machine-readable abbreviations for most licenses.