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FSFE releases refreshed set of REUSE practices and a tool to help developers comply

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The REUSE Initiative has received an updated set of practices that simplify the process of declaring copyright and licence information. To help facilitate developers with updating their projects, the FSFE has also published a tool that verifies whether a project is compliant.

Copyright and licensing is difficult. Finding out the exact copyright and licence of a piece of code is often times more difficult than it should be. Missing or scattered licence information makes it very labour-intensive to verify whether you can legally use a piece of code. For a thorough legal review, you have to manually check every file for licence information, and every file has a different way of declaring its copyright and licence.

But what if we could automate this? That is what the REUSE Initiative postulates. By defining a standard for copyright and licence declaration, the legal process of complying with licences becomes a lot easier. Simply include a standard, computer-readable header tag to every file, and extracting the licence information should be as simple as running a parser.

Earlier in October, we released a set of practices towards that end. Now, we have updated those practices to streamline them some. To accompany the streamlined changes, we have published a tool for developers to check whether they comply with our recommendations.

The primary change between the old version and the new is that you no longer need to declare two tags; only one. 'License-Filename' has been deprecated, and instead its functionality has been rolled into 'SPDX-License-Identifier'. This is more in line with existing projects, and is less effort to boot.

Complying with the REUSE recommendations is very simple. Why not give it a spin? We would love to hear from you.