[FSFE PR][EN] REUSE makes copyright and licensing easier than ever

press at fsfe.org press at fsfe.org
Wed Aug 7 07:40:42 UTC 2019

 = REUSE makes copyright and licensing easier than ever =

[ Read online: https://fsfe.org/news/2019/news-20190807-01.en.html ]

REUSE helps developers to declare copyright and licensing of their
projects. Today, the REUSE project released version 3.0 of their
specification. The new edition is accompanied by a helper tool and makes
adopting the best practices easier than ever.

The licensing of a software project is critical information. Developers
set the terms under which others can reuse their software, from
individuals to giant corporations. Authors want to make sure that others
adhere to their chosen licenses; potential re-users have to know the
license of third-party software before publication; and companies have
to ensure license compliance in their products that often build on top
of existing projects. The REUSE [1] project, led by the Free Software
Foundation Europe (FSFE), helps all of these parties.

REUSE aims to have all copyright and licensing information stored as
close to the source files as possible. This is achieved by directly
adding this information to the file in a standardised and machine-
readable form. If a file does not support that, a .license file or
central DEP-5 configuration file can be used instead. This way,
developers can be assured that re-users will not oversee copyright
holders and their intended license.

Following the best practices is simple:

1. Choose and provide licenses: Select a Free Software license, find the
   unique identifier of this license, and store the full license text
   inside a dedicated LICENSES/ directory.

2. Add copyright and licensing information to each file: Add at least
   two lines indicating the copyright holder and the license.

3. Confirm REUSE compliance: Use the REUSE tool to check whether all
   necessary information is present.

Adopters can start with a new tutorial [2] that explains how to make a
repository REUSE compliant. To ensure that developers can concentrate on
their actual work, we have developed the REUSE helper tool [3] that
automates and assists with some of these steps. It can also be included
in CI/CD workflows [4] to confirm REUSE compliance continuously.

Our constantly expanding FAQ [5] answers basic questions about
licensing, copyright, and more complex use cases. Advanced users and
integrators will find the full specification [6] helpful.

And there is more to come: The REUSE initiative will continue its work
on making copyright and licensing easier for everyone. Our roadmap
includes configurable templates for adding the headers with the helper
tool, as well as an API that for example allows projects to display a
dynamic badge indicating the REUSE status, or third-party services to
integrate REUSE checks.

REUSE is already being used by various software projects like the Linux
kernel [7], and recommended by other license compliance initiatives like
OpenChain [8]. We welcome other developers to adopt REUSE and look
forward to feedback and collaboration. Please contact us [9] and join
the mailing list [10].

Discuss this article [11]

  1: https://reuse.software
  2: https://reuse.software/tutorial
  3: https://git.fsfe.org/reuse/tool/
  4: https://reuse.software/dev
  5: https://reuse.software/faq
  6: https://reuse.software/spec
  7: https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git/tree/Documentation/process/license-rules.rst
  8: https://www.openchainproject.org/news/2017/09/13/fsfe-contributes-reuse-guide-to-openchain-curriculum
  9: https://fsfe.org/contact
 10: https://lists.fsfe.org/mailman/listinfo/reuse
 11: https://community.fsfe.org/t/reuse-makes-copyright-and-licensing-easier-than-ever/307

  == About the Free Software Foundation Europe ==

  Free Software Foundation Europe is a charity that empowers users to
  control technology. Software is deeply involved in all aspects of our
  lives; and it is important that this technology empowers rather than
  restricts us. Free Software gives everybody the rights to use,
  understand, adapt and share software. These rights help support other
  fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech, press and privacy.

  The FSFE helps individuals and organisations to understand how Free
  Software contributes to freedom, transparency, and self-determination.
  It enhances users' rights by abolishing barriers to Free Software
  adoption, encourage people to use and develop Free Software, and
  provide resources to enable everyone to further promote Free Software
  in Europe.


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