There's a software called vnpy on github that's in chinese.

We have a translated copy to english. The goal is to keep their MIT license but just for that code.

We're wondering: Should we make a subdirectory in our codebase of prototypes, put the MIT license there (so that it applies only to code in that folder). Or make a new repo with this translation?

So the main question is: can you somehow signal that a license applies only a subdirectory, and what are best practices?

1 Answer 1


Placing a note in README or such that "directory xyz is under licence BLA-4.1.2, see xyz/BLA.txt for details" should be plenty (and copyright notes in the different files, as appropiate).

What exactly is the translation? Add translations for messages and documentation? Rework so that messages are in English? Work to use something like GNU's gettext(1), as discussed here? Translate program's identifiers, comments? Something else? Note that the different tasks range from "no to minimal interference with the code" to "more or less rewrite all", and the legal implications could be very different.

  • Translate some of the guides and gui text from chinese to english.
    – v1z3
    May 18, 2021 at 20:44
  • Translations are usually considered to be derivative works. I think it would be fair to state the original license and attribution language (copyright notices) of the Chinese version with the translated text. The MIT license is permissive, so you can distribute your translation (even commercially), as long as you fulfill the license's requirements. Sep 15, 2021 at 14:38

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