I am writing a program and it is open source on GitHub. Part of this program is a file system, and I used an open-source file system called the "Simple File System" as design inspiration. My version, however, is simpler and more custom for my application. Anyone looking at what I did who knows how Simple File System works will see the similarities, but I wrote my own code and used the SFS documentation for guidance. How do I attribute SFS?

  • Are you asking legally, or ethically? Sep 1, 2022 at 19:44
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    @PhilipKendall Ethically, although if there are different answers for "legal" vs "ethical" I'd be curious to hear both. My software is not nearly cool enough to actually be used by anyone, but in the off-chance I'd like to make sure credit is given where it is due Sep 1, 2022 at 19:46

1 Answer 1


Legally, the question is whether your work is a derivative work of SFS. If it is, then you must do more than attribute SFS: you must follow whatever the license conditions are for the use of SFS - for example, if it is GPL-licensed then your code must also be GPL-licensed. If your code is not a derivative work, then there is no legal requirement.

Ethically, it's largely up to you. There are no particular standards around this, but it is of course considered polite to acknowledge influences on your design even if they don't reach the level of a derivative work.

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    The OP wrote: "I wrote my own code and used the SFS documentation for guidance." So most likely it is not a derivative work, but more like a clean room implementation. Sep 3, 2022 at 14:10

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