I have a repository that is licensed under MIT license. The repository is still private, but I want to make it public soon.

Nevertheless, there is a file (a Makefile), that is licensed under GNU LGPL LICENSE.

##    //   #    This file is distributed under the terms of the         ##
##         #     GNU Lesser General Public License Version 2.1          ##
##         #     (see LICENSE file for the text of the license) 

Since I don't want to have the repository licensed under GNU license, but rather under MIT license I would like to confirm whether I should remove this file before publishing the repository, or if having this single file would force me to license everything under GNU LGPL?


As the Makefile is not a part of the software you are creating, but only a script used in the build process, the two are separate works as far a copyright is concerned.

With separate works, the license of one does not affect the license on the other. This means that you can distribute your code under the MIT license and at the same time the Makefile under the LGPL license.

You just have to make it clear where you mention the licensing of your project that the repository also contains parts that are not under the MIT license.


Unlike the GNU GPL, the GNU LGPL doesn't require that the software as a whole is licensed under it.

  • 2
    Though it does require that the LGPL software continues to be distributed under LGPL, so you can't relicense the Makefile under MIT, and your project will need to be under multiple licences (each applying to different parts thereof). – MadHatter Jan 8 at 9:51

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