The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has announced the release of REUSE 3.0, a copyright and licensing specification and supporting utility designed to make license compliance as simple as possible for free and open source projects.

“The licensing of a software project is critical information,” explains FSFE’s Carmen Bianca Bakker and Max Mehl. “Developers set the terms under which others can reuse their software, from individuals to giant corporations. Authors want to make sure that others adhere to their chosen licenses; potential re-users have to know the license of third-party software before publication; and companies have to ensure license compliance in their products that often build on top of existing projects. The REUSE project, led by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), helps all of these parties.”

The core of REUSE is a specification that details where copyright and licensing information should be stored, and in what format. This data is then accessible using a tool – reuse – which reads the data and pulls up a summary detailing any code that has bad or entirely missing licensing information attached, any licences referred to but not actually used, and highlights the licences used in a given project along with marking files that have valid license and copyright information.

“The REUSE initiative will continue its work on making copyright and licensing easier for everyone,” the pair add of the project’s future. “Our roadmap includes configurable templates for adding the headers with the helper tool, as well as an API that for example allows projects to display a dynamic badge indicating the REUSE status, or third-party services to integrate REUSE checks.”

More information on REUSE 3.0 can be found on the FSFE blog, while a step-by-step tutorial guides developers and publishers through making their projects REUSE compliant.