Lets say I want to give users the rights given by MIT license but I want to resrtict illegal use and translation to any other language for example. There can be two ways to do it :

  1. Modify MIT license
  2. Provide an EULA with the MIT license. Which one is better?
  • There is no point in trying to restrict illegal use through a license. People using the software illegally are not likely to follow the license anyway and illegal use is already not allowed based on the law. Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 11:25
  • That was for an example only as I stated /rrlimd. Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 11:45
  • Please provide a better example because licenses that restrict fields of use are off-topic. Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


The MIT license gives recipients of the software unrestricted rights to make modifications. That makes it a contradictory statement that you want to give users "the rights given by MIT license" and at the same time that you want to restrict certain modifications, like translation to another language.

As your desires are contradictory, they cannot be fulfilled at the same time. Depending on what you value higher, you

  • can go with the unmodified MIT license, or
  • hire a lawyer to draft a license for you that has the restrictions you desire and will hold up in court. Such a license will most likely not be accepted as an open-source license.

The two options you mention are most likely not going to work in the way you think.

  1. A copyright license is a legal document and it is surprisingly hard to get it to say exactly what you want without being overly broad. For example, compiling is a mechanical translation of the source code into machine code. That is a translation from one language to another, but is that also a translation you want to forbid? And how about a mechanical translation between source code languages?

  2. As an EULA is based on contract law and a copyright license on copyright law, those two can interact in a very surprising manner. For example, I can decline the EULA and then use the software under the permissions given to me by the MIT copyright license without being bound by the restrictions contained in the EULA.

    A contract requires the explicit agreement from both parties to be enforceable, but a copyright license like the MIT license is a one-sided offer of additional rights from the rights-holder.

  • 1
    Whether or not a free-software licence is also a contract turns out to be strongly jurisdictionally-dependent, see eg this LWN article (full disclosure: I wrote it, but I didn't give the underlying talk; that was by Real Lawyers). +1 from me, anyway!
    – MadHatter
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 8:51

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