According to the text of the MIT license:

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

However, many R packages, seem to follow the note from R packages

A name of a license “template” and a file containing specific variables. The most common case is MIT + file LICENSE, where the LICENSE file needs to contain two fields: the year and copyright holder.

and include only a file of this form (this particular is taken from popular magrittr package)

YEAR: 2019
COPYRIGHT HOLDER: Stefan Milton Bache and Hadley Wickham

without a full text of the license.

What is going on here? Does it violate MIT license requirements?

1 Answer 1


The R site is reasonably clear that if someone else wrote the code, and you receive it under the MIT licence, then you are obliged to reproduce the licence text ("the only restriction is that the license must be preserved").

The section you quote from is about your licensing decisions, that is, how to licence code you've written. But if you're the sole rightsholder, no licence you choose is binding on you. So you can lawfully choose to distribute your code, telling people it's under the MIT licence, without actually including a copy of the licence text. Doing so might not be enormously helpful to the rest of the world, but no licence has been violated.

Should someone choose to reuse that code, their obligations are less clear. The MIT licence obliges the re-user to reproduce the licence text, but if none was provided, one could argue that the obligation was void. On the other hand, if you were a nice, well-behaved developer, you might well choose to restore that text.

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