The MIT license text begins with "Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files".

What exactly are considered to be "associated documentation files"?

For example, the payment service Stripe releases their python library under the MIT license. Does this mean that all of the documentation for that library on their 'docs' website is covered by the MIT license (e.g. this page).

  • As a rule of thumb, if an open source license does not provide a definition for a term (as e.g. the GPL does), then that term means whatever the dictionary says it means. In some cases, words may have special meanings due to laws or court rulings, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 18:25
  • For the example you mentioned (Stripe), the web site docs appear to be generated using embedded documentation in the Python code, and the parts of the Python code which contain API docs (e.g. the files which describe the API) are in turn generated by the "OpenAPI" spec, which is also under MIT, higher up in the repository. So at least for this example, the form of the documentation that is released with the source code is available under the MIT license. Now, if someone wrote a separate document about (say) Stripe, then that separate document is licensed independently (maybe MIT, maybe not).
    – Brandin
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 12:05

1 Answer 1


By convention, the MIT license in the LICENSE or COPYING file at the top directory of a source code repository applies to all files in that source code repository, unless a different license is explicitly applied to a specific set of files in that source code repository.

For e.g. libuv applies the MIT license to its overall source code repository, but explicitly licenses its documentation (presumably under the docs directory) under the CC BY 4.0 license.

The libuv README states:

libuv is licensed under the MIT license. Check the LICENSE and LICENSE-extra files.

The documentation is licensed under the CC BY 4.0 license. Check the LICENSE-docs file.

If libuv did not specify CC BY 4.0, then the "associated documentation" part of its MIT license would also apply to libuv's documentation, only in that same source code repository.

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