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I would like to use a tool or a webpage to find a license for a github project.

As a (python) github project depends on various libraries with their own licenses (like for example BSD, MIT, ...) how do I choose the license for the actual github repository?

Is there a tool or a webpage to answer that question? Or to give a list of possible licenses for my github repo dependent on the used packages?

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  • this may be more a legal matter-I don't think there is software for this, especially since licenses can be customized per project.
    – depperm
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 11:04
  • I do not understand what you mean by "since licenses can be customized per project."...
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 11:06
  • a user can use a license template but modify it to meet their needs. Every BSD license is not necessarily the same (related question)
    – depperm
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 11:12
  • My question is more broader. Or should I ask a question for each of the billions of possible combination?
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 11:16
  • My point is this is very complex, most software has dependencies each with its own license, and navigating this correctly (depending on use of your software) should be in the realm of legal experts (article on github license issues/complexity)
    – depperm
    Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 11:30

1 Answer 1

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How do I choose the license for the actual github repository?

Legally, you can only choose the license for your code that you author. If you have dependencies, do not host that code in your github repo. So the license you have chosen is for just your code.

Use submodules to download the other code. Note somewhere in your project that your project uses code from other repos with different licenses.

Is there a tool or a webpage to answer that question? Or to give a list of possible licenses for my github repo dependent on the used packages?

@Z Z found a tool in comments. I can't address how well this works. I tend to do this step manually by reading each license personally.

An example of how to enumerate the licenses in a safe manner is the FreeBSD port for cups-filters. The distribution for this package has 8 separate distinct licenses.

BSD4CLAUSE GPLv2 GPLv2+ GPLv3 GPLv3+ LGPL20 LGPL21+ MIT

Each individual package has the potential to have a different license. All the licenses are shipped with the package but the submodules are downloaded at compile time.

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  • This is not the answer to the question. Did you read it fully ? Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 11:21
  • I did. I suppose you are right, as the true answer is the question is unanswered because it would be impossible for software to detect, understand and resolve human errors (such as listing an incorrect license in GitHub). Or any number of other things a human needs to be involved to answer on a case by case basis. Make sense? Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 11:35
  • So every developer on github will most likely do something wrong? Maybe I can sue them all and get rich!
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 15:33
  • How can there be so many software developers on github, creating projects, if the could get in legal trouble very easily? How can that be?
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 15:36
  • @RohitGupta I took you sage advice, and refactored to be a more direct / better answer. Thanks. Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 16:00

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