Thomas Fuchs
Hi, I'm Thomas Fuchs. I'm the author of Zepto.js, of, and I'm a Ruby on Rails core alumnus. With Amy Hoy I'm building cheerful software, like Freckle Time Tracking and Every Time Zone and write books like
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Why I’d like a “license type” setting for GitHub projects

April 5th, 2012

Don’t you just hate it when you find some great piece of code on GitHub and then you realize that somewhere at the end of the README the frightful acronym GPL is ruining your good mood?

I propose to make it easier to find projects with a license you can live (and work) with, and would love to see a “license type” setting in GitHub. The license type would maybe show up as a little flag, ribbon or banner when you browse repositories on GitHub, and would also be available in the API—ideal for projects like MicroJS, where we only include permissively-licensed libraries.

Here’s how that could work like—have a drop down setting on the project settings to choose from a type of license. It’s important to make the distinction that I propose to select the general type of license, not a specific license itself (like “Apache 2.0”).

Personally, I’d group open source licenses into the following buckets:

  • Permissive (MIT/BSD/WTF/Apache)
  • Restrictive (GPL)*
  • Other
  • Proprietary (or no license)

The project source code should still include a LICENSE file of some sort of course for the details; and if a project is dual-licensed, you’d specify the most permissive license.

*I have some other adjectives for these types of licenses, which I better not mention in public.