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I have a hosted OS project that uses the MIT license attributed to my user name. I also provide packaged releases of the software for convenience (so users don't need to build and package locally). The license file is included in the packaged application.

I want to add a link to the repository somewhere in the packaged application. The reasons are both so that users can know where the code is and report bugs/contribute (like contact info), and so that the original repository will always be known to users even if the software is forked or repackaged (a la "based on the original work at <link>").

Where should I put this link so that it is always distributed with the software? Does it go in the license file, or in another place that I then need to specify must be included in the application? Does the MIT license support my requirement?

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Taking your questions out of order,

Does the MIT license support my requirement?

Not really. The MIT licence requires preservation of copyright notices, and of the licence text itself, but that licence doesn't have to apply to re-distributed versions, so there's no guarantee that either will be in any way readable in later versions - if, for example, they are binary-only distributions.

Where should I put this link so that it is always distributed with the software? Does it go in the license file, or in another place that I then need to specify must be included in the application?

So, the answer to the first question makes clear the problem with the rest: because there's no requirement to redistribute a file in the way you want, nobody will be looking for it, and there's therefore no standard place for it. You could modify the MIT licence text, but that's never a good idea, not least because non-standard licences are a big turn-off for corporate software reuse.

If I were you, I'd go for the Apache2 licence. It's still a well-understood permissive licence, but s4d says that

If the Work includes a "NOTICE" text file as part of its distribution, then any Derivative Works that You distribute must include a readable copy of the attribution notices contained within such NOTICE file

Recipients of Apache-licensed software know to be on the lookout for that file, so it's ideal for your purpose. The patent grant helps to put people at ease, as well.

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  • Thanks. What bothers me about the AL2 is that I need a copyright notice on every file, which is rather cumbersome. Is there something that doesn't require me to modify every source file? Commented Apr 27 at 15:21
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    I don't see why you need that. It's best practice, sure, but all you need is a one-line copyright statement on each file, and you needed that for the MIT licence, anyway. Strictly, you don't even need that - the Berne Convention says you have protection without it - but it's a really good idea to have it.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Apr 27 at 16:19
  • I was looking at apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.html#apply and it shows a 10+ lines block of text to be put in files. What is the 1 line one? I didn't know MIT required that too to be honest. Commented Apr 27 at 16:30
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    That's a recommendation, not a requirement. The one-line copyright statement is the (c) 2024 Jane Q. User sort of thing. MIT doesn't require it, but it requires its preservation, so if you don't have one, it won't get preserved.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Apr 27 at 19:54
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    @user1803551, it is generally recommended that each file contains a clear indication who owns the copyrights and which license applies, to ensure this information remains available even when the file gets separated from the official LICENSE file. The common practices here predate the use of SPDX identifiers and boil down to either including the license text itself (for shorter licenses), or a text like you found for the Apache license (typically for longer licenses). Commented Apr 29 at 11:16

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