Software Licenses on GitHub: Which One Should You Choose?

Murat Karagözgil
2 min readOct 11, 2023
Licence formats

GitHub is a popular code hosting platform for open source projects. When you publish your code on GitHub, you can choose to license it under a variety of different licenses. This license will determine how others can use, modify, and distribute your code.

Which license is the most popular on GitHub?

The most popular software license on GitHub is the MIT License. It is a very permissive license that allows users to do almost anything they want with your code, including using it in commercial products.

Other popular licenses on GitHub include:

  • Apache License 2.0
  • GNU General Public License (GPL) v3
  • Mozilla Public License 2.0
  • BSD 3-Clause License

Which license is good for commercial usage of your projects?

If you want to allow others to use your code in commercial products, you should choose a permissive license, such as the MIT License or Apache License 2.0. These licenses allow users to redistribute and modify your code without any restrictions.

If you want to require that any modifications to your code be released under the same license, you should choose a copyleft license, such as the GPL v3. This type of license ensures that your code remains open source, even if it is modified and incorporated into other projects.

How to choose a license for your GitHub project

When choosing a license for your GitHub project, you should consider the following factors:

  • How do you want others to use your code? Do you want to allow them to use it in commercial products? Do you want to require that any modifications to your code be released under the same license?
  • What are the licensing requirements of any dependencies your project uses? Some dependencies may require that your project be licensed under a specific license.
  • What are the community norms for your project type? For example, many popular web development projects are licensed under the MIT License.

If you are unsure which license to choose, you can consult the Choose a License: https://choosealicense.com/ website for guidance.

Conclusion

Choosing the right license for your GitHub project is important. It will determine how others can use, modify, and distribute your code. Consider the factors listed above when choosing a license, and consult the Choose a License website for guidance if you are unsure.

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