A lot of our projects are CC0 licensed and I had been researching across the web to find any information regarding the legalities of this, and to retain the original author's moral rights. I have not been able to find information on the dos and don'ts of this approach though.

I think it is fine under the MIT license but I am not sure what is possible with the Apache 2.0 license.

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    What would make you think you can do this? How would that be in compliance with the licenses? Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 6:37
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    I’m voting to close this question because it is a bad faith question about violating the terms of licenses. Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 23:19
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    Hm, not sure why clarity is "bad faith" as I want to avoid causing issues. I in end, kept the same license and opted not to switch it to CC0 for the reasons posted below. I do find it helpful for others if they seek the same information and would like an explanation as to why you shouldn't do that @curiousdannii. Especially if it comes to licenses as there are quite a few that are unsure. Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 11:06
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    I don't understand how anyone would think they could completely disregard the license and turn someone else's copyrighted creative work into public domain without their permission. There is no charitable interpretation of this question. Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 11:24
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    Note that forking does not really do anything special... when you fork you received a copy of the code with the specified license. Period. What you can or cannot do is determined by that license.
    – Bakuriu
    Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 14:16

3 Answers 3


Generally, you do not have the right to re-license the work of anyone - you have to keep at least the obligations from the license under which you receive the work.

So let's compare that:

CC0 basically is a short version of "do whatever you want, no conditions whatsoever".

MIT and Apache are both permissive licenses. Their gist basically is "do whatever you want - on the condition that you keep the copyright notice and make it accessible on all works which are a derivative of it".

So yes, you may use works under those two licenses for any purpose, and you do not need to disclose source code. But you are required to keep the original copyright under all circumstances - or you have no license to use it at all. And that's a an obligation you would remove and which you have no right to remove as you are not the copyright holder.

Conversely it's no problem if you distribute MIT-licensed content or derivatives under a GPL license (copyleft). That has the same requirement for keeping the credits intact and making them available - and imposes further restrictions on (re)distribution - something the original MIT license allows you to do. A similar argument can be made with GPLv3 and Apache2-licensed code but a bit more complicated due to some patent clauses and indemnification requirements in the Apache license - requirements which you are not allowed to remove by any relicense.

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    Insofar as the comment thread here has been a great philosophical discussion for the site's scope, but is unlikely to change (or even touch on) the mechanical substance of this answer, I've moved it to chat where you're welcome to continue further.
    – apsillers
    Commented Apr 12, 2021 at 2:43

In my opinion, it is not fine to relicense content under either of those licences to CC0. CC0 includes a pretty strong waiver of moral rights, which are not mentioned in either the MIT or Apache licences. In jurisdictions which recognise moral rights and permit them to be disclaimed, you have thus exercised a right which was not given to you by the original licensor.

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    Thanks, this is what I had mostly assumed. I think I will just stick with the current licenses then. Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 7:44

TLDR; You must distribute any derivative work in source code form such that the originally licensed portion of the derivative work continues to be bound by (at least) one of those two licenses.

Since you have the option of which of two licenses to use, you can choose to conform to the restrictions of the less restrictive of the two licenses. However, the two licenses say basically the same thing about relicensing. Both state that you must include that license as part of any redistribution of the work.

The Apache license says:

You must give any other recipients of the Work or Derivative Works a copy of this License

So that one's pretty clear. The way I read this, the MIT license will continue to apply to the portion of a derived source code distribution that was initially bound by the license. The MIT license takes a little more thought to come to the same conclusion...

The MIT license states that the Copyright Notice and the Permission Notice from the license must be included in any distributed derivations of the work. But if you look closely, you'll discover that the MIT license consists of exactly those two notices. By that reasoning, it also requires that you distribute any derivative works such that the MIT license continues to apply to that portion which was originally licensed by the MIT license.

So neither license allows you to remove it from derivative source code distributions, and so it must apply to the derivative work.

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    It is not clear that the requirement to reproduce a chunk of text implies the requirement that it actually apply as a licence, so it's not clear that (eg) the MIT licence requires that derivative works are licensed under MIT.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 21:21
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    The MIT license doesn't bind derivative works to be released under the MIT license, but only to include the MIT license and copyright notice as attribution of the source work. Though I can see that there's ambiguity in the license over what counts as "the Software" and what would count as being "modified or merged". I'm not completely sure about the Apache license as I haven't read it in detail. Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 1:11
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    "You're saying that including the text of a license in your derivative work is not the same thing as licensing it under that license" that's correct. If this were not so, then language like GPLv3 s5c ("You must license the entire work, as a whole under this License") would be unnecessary, as they'd be implied by s4 ("give all recipients a copy of this License along with the Program").
    – MadHatter
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 4:47
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    @CryptoFool we can't comment on what others have said, particularly when you give no link to what they wrote. But I urge you to note the distinction between "these two conditions continue to apply to the distribution of diistributed works" (which I agree applies, and which I think most of us would agree with) and "this licence continues to be the sole governor of the distribution of derived works" (which I would not).
    – MadHatter
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 7:39
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    Since you're looking for authoritative clarity, the Apache Foundation has an FAQ item which states both "You may distribute the result [of a modification] under a different license" and also "the original code is still covered by the Apache license and you must comply with its terms".
    – apsillers
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 14:22

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