I have an embedded Linux PoC device that has been developed and designed in house to help produce a product that is then sold. The device weighs produce then etches a marker on the bottle indicating the date, time and some other information.

The in-house embedded Linux device runs some custom binaries to perform its job. Within these services there are some libraries that leverage MIT licensed code.

Before actually using this device for anything beyond the PoC (and starting to write my own libraries completely non-derived from MIT ones) I wanted to know;

How (if required) would I have a copy of the MIT license available?

Normally this would be referenced in the documentation for the device, but I am not selling the device nor does it even have documentation. I cannot believe that I would have to list the MIT license on the etched bottle either. If it does need to be displayed somewhere where? I cannot imagine that Coca Cola has zero MIT code in any of their production plants - how do they apply MIT in these situations?

  • Which bit of the (very short) MIT license makes you believe you are required to make a copy of it available? Dec 13, 2021 at 16:24
  • If you are not distributing the device you don’t need to do anything. Dec 13, 2021 at 20:09
  • 1
    The easiest thing is to have some documentation. Your decision to "not have any documentation at all" seems to be the problem here. For example, every consumer device I've ever bought has always come with those little printed manuals that list lots of various legal details. Why not put the information there?
    – Brandin
    Dec 14, 2021 at 10:14
  • What is PoC ? "proof of concept" ? And the (legal) details depends upon your legal system - not the same in France and in California. Jan 5, 2022 at 13:04

1 Answer 1


You seem to be suffering from 2 misconceptions: (i) the obligations which would be required to fulfill the MIT License, and (ii) the obligations related to in-house use.

Ad i: The MIT License says "...The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. ...". This means that you need to include that in your software, but not on the output (in your case: the etching in the glass) of the software. This concept is similar in basically all of the Open Source Licenses.

Ad ii: You describe that the machine is for in-house use, you are not selling the machine, you are selling the bottles. With most of the OSS licenses some of the requirements are linked to distribution of your software. As long as you don't distribute/sell the software (or the machine with the software) there is nobody you need to notify about your use of the software and its license.

Of course it is good also for in-house software use to properly identify the components you are using and their licenses, so that any colleague working on this in the future will know (when looking at the source code). Also sometimes business models change and your company might start to sell the software or the machine. Then you need to provide proper attribution and license language to the customers.

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