REUSE recommendations, tutorials, FAQ and specification
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Change log

This change log follows the Keep a Changelog spec. Every release contains the following sections:

  • Added for new features.
  • Changed for changes in existing functionality.
  • Deprecated for soon-to-be removed features.
  • Removed for now removed features.
  • Fixed for any bug fixes.
  • Security in case of vulnerabilities.

The versions follow semantic versioning.

3.0 - 2019-08-07


  • SPDX-FileCopyrightText: Jane Doe is now the recommended way to mark a copyright notice instead of Copyright (C) Jane Doe. Copyright and © are still supported as prefixes.

  • The specification now makes a recommendation on the format of copyright notices, but does not mandate anything other than that the copyright notice contain the name of the copyright holder. The format is roughly: SPDX-FileCopyrightText: 2019 Jane Doe <>

  • An FAQ and much-needed tutorial are added to help people along, instead of letting the specification do double duty as a tutorial.

  • The tool has been updated to be a lot friendlier to use, and to print more helpful linting output. In a future release it will automate some tasks (e.g., adding copyright and licensing information headers to specified files).


  • The DEP5 file which bulk-licenses directories as a sort of global configuration file was moved from debian/copyright to .reuse/dep5.

  • The three steps have been changed from

    1. Provide the exact text of each license used
    2. Include a copyright notice and license in each file
    3. Provide an inventory for included software


  1. Choose and provide licenses
  2. Add copyright and licensing information to each file
  3. Confirm REUSE compliance


  • The specification no longer makes a recommendation on how to deal with licenses such as BSD and MIT that themselves contain editable copyright notices.

  • License files can now only be placed in LICENSES/[spdx-identifier].[ext] files, instead of the default LICENSE, COPYING, etc.. As a result, the Valid-License-Identifier tag is no longer needed.

  • The specification no longer makes any mention of version control systems to track copyright.

  • The specification no longer mentions a bill of materials (SPDX Document).