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I'm wanting to find a way to indicate visually, as shorthand, that certain projects I'm publishing fall under one license or another. On the actual GitHub page for each project, the full license name and text file is present, but for my web page I'm looking for something minimal — a small icon.

Creative Commons has created clearly defined logos for each of their licenses here. All that MIT offers is this page with general logos for the Institute (and the ZIPs can't even be downloaded due to a website issue, nor does it look like they were ever downloadable when I visit the page in the Wayback Machine, but I digress).

Does MIT definitely intend for people to use these logo variants for the license, as has been done on the Wikipedia page, or just for the institution of MIT? If no answer is forthcoming here, I will write MIT and put their response as an answer to the question.

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  • Why do you think a license should have an "official logo"? Aug 3 at 22:26
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    See my post above for the answer to your question. Aug 4 at 1:45
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The MIT license has no logo. It originates from the 80s, were graphical computing was far from mainstream and licenses were discussed in memos written by typewriter. While the license was drafted in the context of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, nowadays the MIT as an institution isn't really involved or affiliated with the license. I would feel that using the MIT logo for this license would be quite misleading. Some people outright avoid the term “MIT license”, and prefer “Expat license” or “X11 license” instead. But it would be equally misleading to use the X Consortium logo for the license. If you're interested about the history of the license, consider reading The Origin of the “MIT License”.

The Creative Commons license suite is unusual for having official icons, but it makes sense in the context of those licenses. For example, the Creative Commons icons make it possible to indicate licensing status on a graphic or photo where there's no space for legal text. They were also designed for an international context where people might understand these icons but not English.

Since licenses other than the Creative Commons licenses don't really have logos, you should just stick to text. However, there are various services to create “badge” or “shield” style icons that you can include in your documents. They have no advantage over text but might be pretty and colourful. For example, the following icon was created with https://shields.io/:

live: mirror:

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  • Thanks, that's very helpful. It does sound like it would be misleading to use MIT's logo to represent the license. P.S.: For anyone who thinks the CC licenses are the only ones with logos just because that's the only example I gave, I would refer them to the GNU and the Unlicense. In many cases, the logo of the project or foundation that publishes the license is commonly used for the license, as with the Apache, Eclipse and FreeBSD Foundations and the PHP and zlib projects. Aug 4 at 1:41

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