When using open source software it is important to find out under which open source license the software was released under, as this determines what can and cannot be done with the software. There are many open source software licenses with different license terms that are not always compatible with each other. Different pieces of software released under incompatible software licenses cannot be combined with each other. It is therefore necessary to find out which licenses are declared in source code and correctly report these. Source code repositories or releases that are open source licensed almost always contain a text file with the text of the license that the code has been released under, such as the GNU General Public License (various versions), the Apache License (various versions), and so on. While open source license texts are meant to be immutable, they are frequently changed. Many times the changes are purely cosmetic, but sometimes the license are changed in such a way that the changes could affect the meaning of the license. It is important to be able to detect such changes. In this article a very lightweight method for comparing license texts found in source code archives with official license texts is presented.
Keywords: open source, license texts, scanning
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Hemel, Armijn, "Open source license text matching and reporting", Technical Disclosure Commons, (December 06, 2021)