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Here's how to check if software license is open source

The Open Source Initiative (OSI), the steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD), announced today it has created a machine readable publication of OSI approved licenses.

According to the Initiative, the API will allow third parties to 'become license-aware', giving businesses everywhere means to determine if a license is Open Source or not.

The Open Source Initiative considers this the next 'logical step', and quite important, knowing all the copyright and license legal battles going on nowadays, and how expensive they can be.

Open Source Lead at GitHub, Brandon Keepers offered, "A canonical, machine-readable source of license metadata is a great step towards enabling developers to build tools around open source licensing and compliance. We can't wait to see what the community does with it."

The idea of the API is to become a 'hub' and store a central list of 'crosswalks and common identifiers to other services'. License-aware third parties will be allowed to provide mappings, and pull OSI approval status programmatically.

The API can be found at

The entire source of the machine readable data is stored in a git, available on this link, and the Open Source Initiative says pull requests are ‘highly encouraged’. Some ‘very basic’ API wrappers have already been published for Python, Go and Ruby.

The Initiative is also encouraging everyone to send their ideas on additional metadata to add to the License specifications:

“please feel free to file a bug (or send a patch!) with the licenses repo (, with some snippits of data as an example,” it says.

Image source: Shutterstock/Imilian

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in writing various types of content, from blogs, whitepapers, and reviews to ebooks, and many more, across sites including Al Jazeera Balkans, TechRadar Pro, IT Pro Portal, and CryptoNews.