The MIT License: 3 Things You Should Know

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The MIT License is one of the most common open-source software license. The license gives “any person obtaining a copy of … the Software” A.K.A the general public, permission as well as the same protection of the copyright holders as long as all the conditions are met . This is one of the three great ideas in open-source licensing.

Some popular software using the MIT license include:

  • AngularJS
  • Atom (text editor)
  • Node.js
  • Rust (programming language)

(Full List)

MIT License

If you’re involved in open-source software it’s important that you read through the license and try to break down each section in a way that’s clearer to you. I’ve colour coded and summarized different sections of the agreement into laymen terms.

The MIT License (MIT)
Copyright (c) <year> <copyright holders>

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

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

The Software is provided “as is”, without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement. In no event shall the authors or copyright holders be liable for any claim, damages or other liability, whether in an action of contract, tort or otherwise, arising from, out of or in connection with the software or the use or other dealings in the Software.

Notice Condition

If you plan to distribute a software’s source code you must include license and copyright notice.  This allows users to receive a license direct from the copyright holder instead of having to apply for one.  It also ensures that the same warranty disclaimer and liability protections are transferred to anyone who gets a copy of the software

MIT License Must

Warranty Disclaimer

The license states that the software can be obtained, free of charge, to copy, modify, publish, distribute and sublicense.

This part of the disclaimer is intentionally vague and open-ended.  Giving licensees a strong argument against any claim since no specific restrictions were detailed in order to use the software.

MIT License Can

Limitation of Liability

The Software is provided “as is”, meaning that the authors of the the software cannot be held accountable for anything that may go wrong. Also, they are not required to fix any issues that may arise from use of their software. This also acts as a promises not to sue. But these are protections for the licensor against lawsuits by licensees.

MIT License Cannot


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