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title: Choosing a software license
Most public projects on SourceHut (or anywhere else) need to have a software
license before others can use the project, contribute to the code, and so on.
Choosing the right license for your needs is important. If you're unsure of
which to use, we can offer some suggestions.
*Note: we are not your lawyer and this is not legal advice.*
Once you pick a license, add it to your project is by copying the plain-text
version into a file called "LICENSE" or "COPYING" at the root directory of your
## I want others to share their improvements with me.
The GNU foundation publishes the GNU General Public License for this purpose. In
short, it requires anyone who modifies or reuses your code to publish their
changes or the software they incorporated it into under the same license terms.
Version 3 also requires hardware manufacturers to allow users to install their
modifications onto devices which use GPLv3 licensed software.
Links: [GPLv3 information](https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.en.html) —
[GPLv3 plain text](https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.txt)
Authors publishing software which is useful over a network - databases, web
applications, and so on, should consider the "Affro" General Public License, or
AGPL, as well: [AGPLv3 information](https://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl-3.0.html)
— [AGPLv3 plain text](https://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl-3.0.txt)
SourceHut itself is distributed with the AGPLv3 license.
## I want a simple license with few obligations.
The MIT and BSD licenses allow anyone to use or modify your software for any
purpose, or to make changes or incorporate it into their own software without
releasing their source code. Both licenses are very short and easy to
[MIT license text](https://spdx.org/licenses/MIT.html)
[BSD 3-clause license text](https://spdx.org/licenses/BSD-3-Clause.html)
## I want to protect my company's trademarks and license my patents.
If you're publishing software as a business, Apache 2.0 is likely to be the most
appropriate license for your open-source project. It explicitly protects your
trademarks and includes a patent license for any patents which are applicable to
[Apache 2.0 information](https://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.html)
— [Apache 2.0 plain text](https://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.txt)
## Other resources
- [Choose a License from GitHub](https://choosealicense.com/)
- [Free Software Foundation recommendations](https://www.gnu.org/licenses/)
- [The Open Source Initiative](https://opensource.org/)
- [SPDX License Index](https://spdx.org/)
- [tl;dr Legal](https://tldrlegal.com/)