Standard for Public Code

Publish with an open license


  • All code and documentation MUST be published under a license that allows it to be freely reusable, changeable and redistributable
  • Software source code this MUST be licensed under an OSI-approved open source license
  • All code MUST be published with a license
  • Codebases MAY have multiple licenses for different types of code and documentation
  • Documentation MAY be published under Creative Commons licenses that are NOT ‘no derivatives’ or ‘non-commercial’

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 license
  • If there is source code in the codebase there is a license present that is on the OSI-approved Open Source license list

Policy makers: what you need to do

  • Develop policy that requires code to be open source
  • Develop policy that disincentives 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

Developers and designers: what you need to do

  • Add a new license file to every new codebase created

Further reading