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Save time and minimise licensing headaches with REUSE

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REUSE helps make a project's licensing and copyright status more transparent, ensure that third-party code is properly attributed, and make the project's code easily reusable. This tool is currently used worldwide and its specification has been adopted by several corporate and institutional projects. We spoke to Matija Šuklje of Liferay International, one of the companies that has adopted REUSE.

Illustration showing, in an easy way, how REUSE works

REUSE is a set of best practices to simplify Free Software licensing, making licensing easy for humans and machines alike. It helps developers with simple guidelines for declaring their copyright and the conditions for reusing code, and provides help documents and low-threshold tools to get the job done.

Led by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), this initiative seeks to solve a fundamental issue that Free Software licensing has at the very source: what license is a file licensed under, and who owns the copyright? A set of best practices and the helper tool make the task of adding this legal information in every single file of the project a simple practice.

Since its first release in 2017, the number of projects implementing REUSE in their workflows is steadily increasing. Liferay is one of the companies that use and sponsor REUSE so we talked with its Legal Director and Associate General Counsel (FOSS & Community), Matija Šuklje.

“When we switched to REUSE that kind of snowballed a lot of the internal processes to streamline our licensing documents, and to streamline some technical development, which caused us in turn to save a lot of engineering time and even shortened negotiations and sales cycles because things were much clearer”, explains Mr. Šuklje.

REUSE Software new version

REUSE is constantly evolving and improving. The alpha version v3.1.0a1 of the REUSE tool was released a couple of weeks ago containing the new REUSE.toml functionality, and soon REUSE Specification v3.2 will be released.

“The version 3.2 of the REUSE specification adds a long-awaited improvement in the form of REUSE.toml that helps projects declare their licensing with heightened flexibility and reduced ambiguity. Furthermore, the new TOML format is much easier to parse for third parties, allowing them to read and modify this file with their own tooling”, explains Carmen Bianca Bakker, coordinator of this initiative.

More and more organisations, companies, and individuals are using REUSE and benefiting from the growing ecosystem of its specification, its helper tool, its API and all the documentation. As using REUSE does not require registration, there are not precise numbers about its users but we know that it is being adopted by:

The REUSE project is based on its community and the people who support and adopt it! The contribution of all our FSFE supporters also allows our continuing work on REUSE as well as on our other activities. You can join them by becoming an FSFE supporter (and enabling our long-term work), you can spread the word among your friends and convince them to support our work with a small donation, and you can contribute to Software Freedom in many other ways. Your support enables our work!