Choosing licenses

Choosing a license for your work can seem daunting, but it is a matter of deciding what you want to be able to do with your content or source code and how you want it to be distributed.


GitHub has a very good guide to choosing licenses for your repositories and also a tool to help you through the process.

Choose a License

Customize your repository > Licensing a repository - GitHub Docs


This is a very thorough article about applying licenses to NPM dependencies and JS development.

Should you care about the license? (TL;DR: yes!) - Vova Bilonenko

This list of licenses includes a list of all the expressions available to you when you create a new Node.js package using npm init.

SPDX License List

Licenses for content

If you are building web applications that incorporate content, then you need to consider how that content it licensed. You may want or need to build in capacity for setting different licenses for different content. You may want to license various content related to your app.

In any case, it is good to be aware of how licenses for content work and how you can use them.

Creative Commons is a good place to start. CC has a helpful license chooser that you can use to select a license based on how you want your content to be used.

CC Chooser (beta)

Public Domain Licenses

Licenses for software

Ultimately, software (in the form of source code) is content. There is no special difference between licensing for content v. source, aside from the way that these licenses are used in practice.


“Copyleft” is a play on “copyright” and intended to express the opposite. If copyright preserves rights for written copy, then copyleft waives them (either partially or completely). Where copyright is restrictive, copyleft is permissive.


What is Copyleft?

Copyleft vs. Copyright: 3 Key Concepts You Need to Know - Joel Lee

Open Source licenses

Here are some other general guides to software licenses, with a focus on open source licensing.

Software Licenses in Plain English - tl;dr legal

Licenses and Standards - Open Source Initiative