I want to distribute a single exe file, which is a simple http web server. This exe contains all the dependency html/js files (mostly licensed under MIT and New BSD)

I really don't know if that's distribution in binary form. Do i have to reproduce the copyright notes in the documentation, if the client is able to see the copyright notes in the html source with a web browser?


1 Answer 1


First, IANAL. But let us check the part of the text of the two licenses you mentioned. MIT license states:

  The above copyright notice and this permission notice 
  shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

BSD license states:

  Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
  modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are
  * Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
    notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
  * Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
   notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
   documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

So in both texts, it is required to include the copyright notice, if you distribute your software as text or as binary does not matter.

AFAIK there is nothing in the text telling you exactly how or in which form you have to provide the copyright notice. However, the notice should be easy to find and not cause unreasonable effort for your client - you clearly should not hide the notice from the client. So it should be there where the "standard documentation" is. If, for example, you are creating some kind of embedded device with a network plug, where most of the standard documentation will be available by navigating to a specific URL using a browser, then I don't think you need to provide a separate copyright notice. If, however, the standard documentation is a printed manual, you should consider to provide the information there.

The final call on this can only make a judge, who will do this only in court, after someone tries to sue you, which will hopefully not happen.

  • Thanks for your answer. In my point of view streaming the data is reproducing the copyright notice in an "other material". Another option is to outsource all the Html/Javascript files and put them in an extra Zip, which the user can immediately see.
    – user218474
    Feb 29, 2016 at 12:34
  • @user218474: you could surely that, if you like, but as long as you stick to MIT or BSD (and not use GPL code, for example), providing the source code itself is no requirement of those licenses.
    – Doc Brown
    Feb 29, 2016 at 13:25

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