Matching Guidelines

SPDX License List Matching Guidelines

This documents provides guidelines to be used for the purposes of matching licenses against those included on the SPDX License List. There is no intent here to make a judgment or interpretation, but merely to ensure that when one SPDX user identifies a license as "BSD 3-clause," for example, it is indeed the same license as what someone else identifies as "BSD 3-clause" and the same license as what is listed on the SPDX License List. Some license template files will include technical markup to provide further or specific guidance to SPDX document creators or tool makers.

1. How These Guidelines Are Applied

1.1 Purpose: To ensure consistent results by different SPDX document creators when matching license information that will be included in the License Information in File field (Sec. 6.5 of Spec). SPDX document creators or tools may match on the license text itself, the official license header, or the SPDX License List short identifier.

1.1.1 Guideline: Official License Headers The same matching guidelines used for license text apply to the official license headers.Where applicable, an official license header template file with markup is included with the SPDX License List. Official license headers are defined by the SPDX License List as specific text specified within the license itself to be put in the header of files. (see http://spdx.org/spdx-license-list/license-list-overview for more info).

2. Substantive Text

2.1 Purpose: To ensure that when matching licenses to the SPDX License List, there is an appropriate balance between matching against the substantive text of the license and disregarding parts of the text that do not alter the substantive text. Further guidelines of what part of the license text can be disregarded or considered replaceable for purposes of matching are listed below here and in the subsequent specific guidelines. A conservative approach is taken in regards to rules about disregarded or replaceable text.

2.1.1 Guideline: Verbatim Text License text should be the same verbatim text (except for the guidelines stated here). The text should be in the same order, e.g., differently ordered paragraphs would not be considered a match.

2.1.2 Guideline: No Additional Text Matched license text should only include that found in the vetted license text. Where a license found includes additional text or clauses, this should not be considered a match.

2.1.3 Guideline: Replaceable Text Some licenses include text that refers to the specific copyright holder or author, yet the rest of the license is exactly the same as a generic version. The intent here is to avoid the inclusion of a specific name in one part of the license resulting in a non-match where the license is otherwise an exact match (e.g., the third clause and disclaimer in the BSD licenses, or the third, fourth, and fifth clauses of Apache 1.1). In these cases, there should be a positive license match.

Text that can be considered replaceable for matching purposes is indicated in the SPDX license template files with mark-up. The text indicated as such can be replaced with similar values (e.g., a different name or generic term; different date) and still be considered a positive match. This rule also applies to text-matching in official license headers (see Guideline #1).

2.1.4 Guideline: Omitable Text Some licenses have text that can simply be ignored. The intent here is to avoid the inclusion of certain text that is superfluous or irrelevant in regards to the substantive license text resulting in a non-match where the license is otherwise an exact match (e.g., directions on how to apply the license or other similar non-substantive exhibits). In these cases, there should be a positive license match.

Text that can be considered omitable for matching purposes is indicated in the SPDX license template files with mark-up. The license should be considered a match if the text indicated is present and matches OR the text indicated is missing altogether.

3. Whitespace

3.1 Purpose: To avoid the possibility of a non-match due to different spacing of words, line breaks, or paragraphs.

3.1.1 Guideline: All whitespace should be treated as a single blank space. License template files do not include markup for this guideline.

4. Capitalization

4.1 Purpose: To avoid the possibility of a non-match due to lower case or upper case letters in otherwise the same words.

4.1.1 Guideline: All upper case and lower case letters should be treated as lower case lettersLicense template files do not include markup for this guideline.

5. Punctuation

5.1 Purpose:Because punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence, punctuation needs to be included in the matching process. License template files do not include markup for this guideline.

5.1.1 Guideline: Puncuation Punctuation should be matched, unless otherwise stated in these guidelines.

5.1.2 Guideline: Hyphens, Dashes Any hyphen, dash, en dash, em dash, or other variation should be considered equivalent.

5.1.3 Guideline: Quotes Any variation of quotations (single, double, curly, etc.) should be considered equivalent.

6. Code Comment Indicators

6.1 Purpose: To avoid the possibility of a non-match due to the existence or absence of code comment indicators placed within the license text, e.g. at the start of each line of text.

6.1.1 Guideline:Any kind of code comment indicator or prefix which occurs at the beginning of each line in a matchable section should be ignored for matching purposes. License template files do not include markup for this guideline.

7. Bullets and Numbering

7.1 Purpose: To avoid the possibility of a non-match due to the otherwise same license using bullets instead of numbers, number instead of letter, or no bullets instead of bullet, etc., for a list of clauses.

7.1.1 Guideline:Where a line starts with a bullet, number, letter, or some form of a list item (determined where list item is followed by a space, then the text of the sentence), ignore the list item for matching purposes. License template files do not include markup for this guideline.

8. Varietal Word Spelling

8.1 Purpose: English uses different spelling for some words. By identifying the spelling variations for words found or likely to be found in licenses, we avoid the possibility of a non-match due to the same word being spelled differently. This list is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all spelling variations, but meant to capture the words most likely to be found in open source software licenses.

8.1.1 Guideline:The words in the following columns are considered equivalent and interchangeable, license template files do not include markup for this guideline.

Column 1 Column 2
1. Acknowledgement
2. Analog
3. Analyze
4. Artifact
5. Authorization
6. Authorized
7. Caliber
8. Canceled
9. Capitalizations
10. Catalog
11. Categorize
12. Center
13. Emphasized
14. Favor
15. Favorite
16. Fulfill
17. Fulfillment
18. Initialize
19. Judgement
20. Labeling
21. Labor
22. License
23. Maximize
24. Modeled
25. Modeling
26. Offense
27. Optimize
28. Organization
29. Organize
30. Practice
31. Program
32. Realize
33. Recognize
34. Signaling
35. Sublicense
36. Sub-license
37. Utilization
38. While
39. Wilfull
40. Noncommercial
41. Percent
42. Copyright holder
1. Acknowledgment
2. Analogue
3. Analyse
4. Artefact
5. Authorisation
6. Authorised
7. Calibre
8. Cancelled
9. Capitalisations
10. Catalogue
11. Categorise
12. Centre
13. Emphasised
14. Favour
15. Favourite
16. Fulfil
17. Fulfilment
18. Initialise
19. Judgment
20. Labelling
21. Labour
22. Licence
23. Maximise
24. Modelled
25. Modelling
26. Offence
27. Optimise
28. Organisation
29. Organise
30. Practise
31. Programme
32. Realise
33. Recognise
34. Signalling
35. Sub-license
36. Sub license
37. Utilisation
38. Whilst
39. Wilful
40. Non-commercial
41. Per cent
42. Copyright owner

9. Copyright Symbol

9.1 Purpose: By having a rule regarding the use of "©", "(c)", or "copyright", we avoid the possibility of a mismatch based on these variations.

9.1.1 Guideline:"©", "(c)", or "Copyright" should be considered equivalent and interchangeable. License template files do not include markup for this guideline.

10. Copyright Notice

10.1 Purpose: To avoid a license mismatch merely because the copyright notice (usually found above the actual license text) is different. The copyright notice is important information to be recorded elsewhere in the SPDX file (see Sec. 6.7 of the SPDX Specification), but for the purposes of matching a license to the SPDX License List, it should be ignored because it is not part of the substantive license text.

10.1.1 Guideline: Ignore copyright notices. A copyright notice consists of the following elements, for example: "2012 Copyright, John Doe. All rights reserved." or "(c) 2012 John Doe." License template files may or may not include markup for this guideline.

11. License Name or Title

11.1 Purpose: To avoid a license mismatch merely because the name or title of the license is different than how the license is usually referred to or different than the SPDX full name. This also avoids a mismatch if the title or name of the license is simply not included.

11.1.1 Guideline: Ignore the license name or title for matching purposes, so long as what ignored is the title only and there is no additional substantive text added here. License template files do not include markup for this guideline.

12. Extraneous Text At the End of a License

12.1 Purpose: To avoid a license mismatch merely because extraneous text that appears at the end of the terms of a license is different or missing. This also avoids a mismatch if the extraneous text merely serves as a license notice example and includes a specific copyright holder's name.

12.1.1 Guideline: Ignore any text that occurs after the obvious end of the license and does not include substantive text of the license, for example: text that occurs after a statement such as, "END OF TERMS AND CONDITIONS," or an exhibit or appendix that includes an example or instructions on to how to apply the license to your code. Do not apply this guideline or ignore text that is comprised of additional license terms (e.g., permitted additional terms under GPL-3.0, section 7). License template files do not include markup for this guideline.