I'm writing an ASP.NET application which is deployed to virtual machines running on Microsoft Azure and customers access using their browser. The virtual machines are under my control and customers only access the service using their browser (they never log on to the virtual machines using RDP and they don't have access to binaries running on the server).

I'm told that if I use an MIT-licensed library on the web server then i'm required to provide attribution to end-users (informing them that I use this library). The library in question is a library used by the .NET application on the web server to connect to Azure Storage. In other words, the library is never shipped to end-customers (it's not a javascript framework or similar).

Looking at the MIT licese, it states:

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

My naïve, I-am-definitively-not-a-layer-interpretation of this is that I don't need to inform my users that I'm using the library, because I'm not shipping any portion of the library to the users. I realize that it may be a nice gesture to the original author to inform users about what open source software I use, but I'm more trying to understand what the hard requirement is.

Am I missing something, or am I correct that attribution is not required?


2 Answers 2


You are correct: the MIT license does not require attribution for server side only libraries. Attribution is required only when you give someone a copy of MIT-covered software. Of course, you can still provide that attribution as a courtesy.


The answer is no. When you are running a server, the server's code is not distributed, only its output. The server's copyright does not extend to the output unless an API somehow exposes part of the source code of the server.

This is actually true in general for almost all free software licenses. The one major exception is AGPL, which requires that if a modified version of AGPL software is served over the internet, that modified version must be distributed under AGPL as well.

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