My company uses WordPress (GPL license), a child theme of a theme and plugins under GPL and just a few code snippets under the MIT license.

Because the GPL license is the stronger license (MIT license is a permissive license) it's therefore applicable license if I understand it correctly.

So if we have some parts of the web application licensed under GPL and then the whole program becomes GPL, do you still have to insert the MIT license information at the points where you inserted it normally into the code? Isn't this misleading for anyone who doesn't know that the whole project is under GPL or how should he know what part of the code is MIT and what is GPL when it is in one file.

I would say that the code that encloses the MIT snippets is then also MIT, because they extend this and do not belong to the GPL parts.

Is there a common solution for that?

1 Answer 1


The GPL (v2 in this case, but v3 contains similar language) allows you to

copy and distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above, provided that [... you] cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License ...

The MIT licence says that you may

use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

In short, the GPL requires that it continue to apply, while the MIT licence requires only that it be copied. The FSF is clear that the GPL must apply to the work as a whole, so if you wish to continue to distribute portions of it under a more permissive licence (either because you are the rightsholder, or because you got them under more permissive terms) you should do so separately from the main work.

My advice is to reproduce the MIT licence text in the main work under a banner that clearly says something like

The following text is included pursuant to a condition of an upstream licence, and does not represent the current licensing status of this code.

Note this discussion applies to the MIT permission notice, not the associated copyright notices. It is important to reproduce the copyright notices in situ, as they continue to correctly represent the rightsholder status of the derivative work.

  • It is also important to say that the code only runs internally on the server and only provides a paid online service. That means we don't have to publish the code. If I understood correctly, you would still create an additional license in the root directory in which one refers to the GLP. (Do you have to do that even when the Wordpress license is already there?) Next you would add it to the places where the MIT license is used with the copyright notice of the creator as well as the MIT license itself and write a little additional comment like the one you suggested. Jun 16, 2021 at 6:44
  • If you're not distributing the code, the GPL (not "GLP") places hardly any restrictions on your activities.
    – MadHatter
    Jun 16, 2021 at 7:23
  • Ok, so I don't have to insert an extra license text for the GLP and can I insert the MIT license with the copyright notice in the places where I use the code? Jun 16, 2021 at 8:27
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    Practically, you don't need to do either of those things, because your code, while unredistributable, isn't being distributed. But if you want to do what you've just described, you're no worse off, though you still can't redistribute the code. And please stop referring to "the GLP". There's no such licence, and it makes your question confusing for others.
    – MadHatter
    Jun 16, 2021 at 8:40
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    Sorry, you are right, of course, I have built in these mistake intuitively. I mean, of course, the GPL (GPLv2 or higher). I still have one question about my application: The website users are companies that can customize and create advertising offers there, which will appear in a mobile app. The app fetches the data from the website. The plugins of the mobile app are not subject to the GPL (but: MIT, Apache2.0, ...) Is the code of the mobile app subject to the GPL because it is the same overall-project (main) or does it have nothing to do with the web application? Jun 16, 2021 at 12:14

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