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I am working on an open source project with an MIT license. The project takes markdown and parses it into HTML pages. (I know it's been done before but I was bored) And I'm a little confused on how people would be able to follow the attribution requirement with the license. All it does is generate the HTML, so I'm not sure if people should have a code comment giving attribution or something. I know this might sound like a noob question but licenses are just beyond me.

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As we discuss in this question, the output of a piece of free software is not generally governed by the licence on the piece of software. So if someone is taking your tool and using it to generate HTML from their own markdown, then publishing that HTML, the MIT licence doesn't govern those HTML pages, and they are not required to attribute you on them.

If people start distributing copies of your tool, then they are required to preserve your copyright notices (and some other text besides), and that's how you'll be attributed.

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  • I tend to agree, yet one might see a difference: The linked question deals with non-code ouput. However here the output in form of html can be considered code (with a wide definition). Do you see a difference or none? Apr 28 at 15:23
  • @planetmaker Closely related: Does "the GPL doesn't cover the ouput of a program" also apply if the output is source code? Since the case here is creating HTML from Markdown (rather than, e.g., inserting user material into a complete, possibly-copyrightable template) I think the HTML expression coming from the program is limited to very small strictly functional bits like <b>{$boldedGroup}</b> which aren't copyrightable.
    – apsillers
    Apr 28 at 15:31
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    @planetmaker the issue isn't whether the output is code; the issue is whether the output is the code of the program (in amounts and ways that qualify for copyright protection), as apsillers' excellent analysis linked above says in much more detail.
    – MadHatter
    Apr 28 at 15:37
  • However, if OP's program does involve combining user input with a template, then the license of the template would come into play.
    – amon
    Apr 29 at 12:29
  • @amon I agree with you, there. That said, we don't know that the program uses templates, and we don't know what licence they're under if it does.
    – MadHatter
    Apr 29 at 12:30

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