Software Package Data Exchange

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Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX)[1] is a file format used to document information on the software licenses under which a given piece of computer software is distributed. SPDX is authored by the SPDX Working Group, which represents more than twenty different organizations, under the auspices of the Linux Foundation.[2]

SPDX attempts to standardize the way in which organizations publish their metadata on software licenses and components in bills of material.[3]

SPDX describes the exact terms under which a piece of software is licensed. It does not attempt to categorize licenses by type, for instance by describing licenses with similar terms to the BSD License as "BSD-like".[1]

The current version of the standard is 2.1, ratified in November 2016[4].

License syntaxEdit

Each license is identified by a full name, such as "Mozilla Public License 2.0" and a short identifier, here "MPL-2.0". Licenses can be combined by operators AND and OR, and grouping (, ).

For example, (Apache-2.0 OR MIT) means that you can choose between Apache-2.0 (Apache License) or MIT (MIT license).

On the other hand, (Apache-2.0 AND MIT) means that both licenses apply.

There is also a "+" operator, when applied to a license, means that future versions of the license apply. For example, Apache-1.1+ means that Apache-1.1 and Apache-2.0 may apply (and future versions if any).

The GNU family of licenses (e.g., GNU General Public License 2.0) have the choice of choosing a later version of the license built in. Sometimes, it was not clear, whether the SPDX expression GPL-2.0 meant "exactly GPL version 2.0" or "GPL version 2.0 or any later version"[5]. Thus, since version 3.0 of the SPDX License List, the GNU family of licenses get new names[6]. GPL-2.0-only means "exactly version 2.0" and GPL-2.0-or-later "GPL version 2.0 or any later version".

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Odence, Phil (2010-06-23). "The Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX) Format". Dr Dobb's. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
  2. ^ Stewart, Kate; Odence, Phil; Rockett, Esteban. "Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX™) Specification". International Free and Open Source Software Law Review. 2 (2). doi:10.5033/ifosslr.v2i2.45.
  3. ^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven (August 10, 2010). "Linux Foundation launches major open-source license compliance program". Computerworld. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
  4. ^ "General Meeting/Minutes/2016-11-03 - SPDX Wiki".
  5. ^ Richard Stallman. "For Clarity's Sake, Please Don't Say "Licensed under GNU GPL 2"!". Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  6. ^ Jilayne Lovejoy. "License List 3.0 Released!". Retrieved 2018-05-24.

External linksEdit