Software A: BSD-3 clause software, I am not its author.

Software B: forked from A, a few files have been changed by me. There are a few file additions, these files have a single author, me.

I know that I can license new files as GPLv3 as they are 100% made by me. But can I put a GPLv3 notice (without removing the original BSD-3 notice) in files modified by me?


1 Answer 1


Yes, you can do that. Software licensed under a BSD-3-clause software is compatible with the GPL license. As such you are allowed to distribute it under GPL v3. That includes that you add a copyright notice to the file - especially if you make modifications to the file (otherwise it would IMHO be bad style, but still not forbidden).

Mind to adhere to the BSD-3 license which forbids create the impression that the original authors endorse your changes. Depending on circumstance it might be a good idea to do something like LibreOffice or Jenkins did: change the name from the project they were forked from.

  • Which clause of BSD3 do you feel requires a name change?
    – MadHatter
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 5:53
  • opensource.org/licenses/BSD-3-Clause <-- I'd argue clause 3. If the original authors are linked to the version they wrote, distributing the product under the name they chose, might somewhat be argued that they endorse the changes. Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 6:36
  • 1
    I've never seen that argued elsewhere. Claiming the endorsement of others usually requires more than merely reusing a non-trademarked name which is already associated with those others - apart from anything else, that's exactly what trademarks are for. I'm not saying the argument couldn't succeed, but I think the OP deserves to know that's not the usual interpretation, and I definitely don't see grounds to claim "you have to ... change the name". Changing names is indeed a good idea, but that's not why.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 7:32
  • I changed the last paragraph. Sounds better? Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 8:15
  • +1 from me, and thanks.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 11:21

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