[Proj] Method of reference to license within software code modules

Charles Wilson proj at cwilson.fastmail.fm
Mon Jan 5 22:12:43 EST 2009

Gerald I. Evenden wrote:
> On Monday 05 January 2009 8:16:14 pm Charles Wilson wrote:
>> The usual practice is yes, when the license itself is short (20-30
>> lines). So, MIT license, BSD, usually yes.
> I cannot find a reference to that line 20-30 count---but I nit-pick.  Their 
> example that references the COPYING file is about 15 lines.  The MIT is about 
> 27 lines.

Right -- it just seems /to me/ to be the usual practice: most open
source softwares seem to embed MIT (27 lines) and BSD-[any flavor]
(anywhere from 21 to 28 lines) in every file.

The FSF gives specific guidance on how to deal with the GPL's mammoth
length, and recommends putting *something* in every source file (which
is 20 lines).

As a contrary data point, the entire zlib/libpng license is 20 lines,
but the zlib source code includes only a 3-line header in each file:

/* crc32.c -- compute the CRC-32 of a data stream
 * Copyright (C) 1995-2005 Mark Adler
 * For conditions of distribution and use, see copyright notice in

And nobody has complained yet that it isn't legal.

>>> Anyway, I feel that I have been a bit excessive.
>> Nope, I think you did it just right.
> Over a third of what I distribute is nothing but repeated license.

Well, the good news is compression formats' bread and butter is
eliminating redundant text.  Hence, .tar.gz/.tar.bz2/.tar.lzma/.zip
files probably won't grow or shrink much at all whatever you do to the
license banner in each file.

There's probably a certain amount of overhead associated with direct svn
downloads -- but updates are communicated by delta, so it's probably not
a big deal there, either.

Dealer's choice, really.


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