Can I use an alternative license on GitHub that isn't listed? Specifically I want to use License Zero.

  • 3
    Are you talking about the drop-down menu when creating a new GitHub project, which allows you to choose among common (open source) licenses?
    – Brandin
    Sep 10 '19 at 8:52
  • @Brandin Yes... Sep 10 '19 at 22:34

I must admit that the phrasing of the question is a bit unclear, at least to me. I am assuming you meant something in the spirit of "Can I use a license that isn't listed on choosealicense.com, and thus isn't recognized by GitHub, when I host my project there?"

If my understanding of the question is correct, the answer would be a resounding yes. As the creator of the project, you can use whatever license you wish to license your project, or even write a new one yourself (although, if you're not a lawyer, that's probably an ill-advised idea). Just place the license in a LICENSE.md or LICENSE.txt file, and you're good to go.

The worst thing that will happen is that GitHub wouldn't "magically" recognize the license, and you won't get some of its bells and whistles around it, like explanatory text, or the ability to search according to it.

Note that you can also request GitHub to add a license, although License Zero doesn't seem to listed in one of appropriate sources GitHub would consider, so you may need to do some extra work beforehand (e.g., get it listed by the OSI).

  • 1
    A bit of background: License Zero is a suite of licenses. The Reciprocal variant (L0-R) was submitted to the OSI in Sep 2017 by Kyle Mitchell, the license's author. However, the license was not approved. This can be interpreted as a rejection of the license, but Richard Fontana thinks it was retracted from review. Either way, it's not going to get OSI-approved in the future.
    – amon
    Sep 11 '19 at 16:08

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