4

We're using an open-source software library which is distributed under the MIT license. The key line of the license is as follows:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

I know that if we were to use their source code in our app, and/or if our app was open-source, we would need to include the MIT license text file along with the source code we got from them.

However, our app does not use their source code. Our app uses the pre-compiled version of their library, and our sources are not available outside our company. Do we need to provide a way for the end user to read the full text of the MIT license?

  • I think it's more a courtesy move, then a legal one. Although licenses such as the GPL seem to require that... Darn GPL -_- | – Zizouz212 Jan 18 '16 at 23:43
  • Would adding the licence hurt? – Ken Sharp Jan 19 '16 at 17:12
  • @KenSharp it would add development time, QA time, and another bullet to the laundry-list of tasks we must perform in each release. – Ben C. R. Leggiero Jan 20 '16 at 14:42
  • I would say yes, because you cannot just say "This software is licensed under the MIT license", because there is not one single MIT license, but multiple variants and the term "MIT license" does not show which variant. – rugk Aug 5 '16 at 21:39
4

You don't have to, but you probably want to for a couple of reasons:

  • It's courteous, and in the spirit of open source

    It's someone else's work, and you're using it. The least you can probably say is "thank you." It will also probably help you stay in the clear: since you're using software in binary form, where the notice isn't immediately accessible, then by providing a copy of the license, you respect that licensing term in another way.

  • It tells your users what's up with the program

    Let's admit it, having the license accessible to the users tells them what's in the program and so on. It's another way of providing attribution, like I listed in the first reason above. Many apps, desktop and mobile, have a screen or panel to indicate the projects and licenses that they use. They don't have to be straight in the user's face, they can be a little button in the "About" screen of the program.

To answer a little confusion: the binaries are still a derived form from that source code. Analyse the heading:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

The software is still there, it's just there in a different form, a compiled form. Therefore, the copyright and permission notice should probably stick around, even if it's just a file somewhere.

  • Are you sure it is not required? As said in another comment I would say it is required, just because you cannot just say "This software is licensed under the MIT license", as there is not one single MIT license, but multiple variants and the term "MIT license" does not show which variant. – rugk Aug 5 '16 at 21:40
  • So can you please explain a bit more why you "don't have to" include the full license text? – rugk Aug 5 '16 at 21:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.