In the case I want to fork a project from GitHub that has the LGPL3.0 or the GPL3.0 license, what do I have to do? The original license text might contain the "process" that is required (keep those files, change these files), but as I am not a lawyer, and English is not my first language, I do not understand what is written there.

I'd appreciate if someone could summarise what needs to be done exactly - in plain English - in the terms of the license, when I fork a GPL/LGPL project in GitHub.

  • Probably the software is just licensed under the LGPLv3, which is an extension of the GPLv3, so both license texts are included. (However, the text of the LGPLv3 allows conversion to the GPLv3, so the difference is quite minor; see opensource.stackexchange.com/q/8401/50.)
    – apsillers
    Aug 11, 2021 at 20:33
  • Thank you @apsillers for your comment, but if you have some time I would appreciate if you could actually answer my question.
    – Alex
    Aug 12, 2021 at 6:10

1 Answer 1


When creating a fork of a LGPL or GPL licensed project, the requirements are actually quite simple:

  • you must use the same license for your forked project.
  • you must keep all copyright notices (lines with the word Copyright, a (range of) year and one or more names) intact. You are allowed to add your own copyright notices on files you modified.
  • you must keep all references to the (L)GPL license intact.
  • if you add new files, you should add a comment block to them with copyright and licensing information. Preferably in the same style as the rest of the project uses.

And actually, only the first point is somewhat specific to the (L)GPL licenses. The other points apply to the large majority of open-source licenses.

  • "You are allowed to add your own copyright notices." - Though adding a copyright notice on a file that you have not modified in any (other) way is dubious (legally, and IMO morally). It makes it appear that you are claiming a partial copyright on something that you have not made a copyrightable contribution to.
    – Stephen C
    Sep 2, 2021 at 12:00
  • @stephenc Who said anything about not having modified or contributed to the code. In most case, developers forking an open source/GPL project do so because 1. the project is no longer maintained 2. the developer had modified the project but the original developer(s) do not want to accept merge requests (sometimes for good reason, sometimes not). Much thanks to Bart for the original short and sweet answer. Very useful. Sep 9, 2022 at 13:40
  • You are misconstruing my comment. What I am saying is that IF you are not modifying the code in any other way apart from adding your own copyright + license THEN that is legally and morally dubious. Certainly adding your own copyright license to any file to which you have contributed zero copyright-able material would not stand in a court of law.
    – Stephen C
    Sep 9, 2022 at 14:37
  • Also read the timestamps on my first comment carefully, and the timestamp on the 2nd edit ... and notice that Bart then modified his answer to take my comment into account!!
    – Stephen C
    Sep 9, 2022 at 14:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.