1

Was wondering after I had seen this answer on ISC vs BSD vs MIT

If both explicit & implied rights are the same and the permissions mentioned in the ISC are also found in MIT, including to sub-license it.

Would there be a problem with adding a commit in a fork that simply adds the extra parts to make it MIT while leaving the copyright header alone? (It would also keep in the permissions granted alongside the copyright notice to not violate the apparent terms) Or would you have to have both in the COPYING.md file without having a single license


  1. In effect I want to migrate code from a project I found that is essentially 'dead' from ISC to MIT after forking it, none of the code was originally committed by me and I don't know the original authors either.

For example:

Attempting to have Licensing As:

✅ . MIT text as Body but Keeping The Original Copyright Header with old name & date (instead of my own)



    〃Copyright (C) 20xx, <PLACEHOLDER@NA.NA>〃
    
     
    
    Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and/or associated documentation files (the "Software"),         
    to deal in the Software without restriction, 
    including without limitation the rights to 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, for any purpose 
    
    subject to the following conditions: 
    The copyright notice and the permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. 
     
 
  

❌. changed away from the original ISC:



>     〃Copyright (C) 20xx, <PLACEHOLDER@NA.NA>〃
>     
>     Permission to use, copy, modify, and/or distribute this software for any purpose with or without fee is hereby granted. provided that
> the above copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all
> copies.
>     
>     THIS HAS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE AUTHOR DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES WITH REGARD TO THIS SOFTWARE INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
> MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE
> FOR ANY SPECIAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY
> DAMAGES WHATSOEVER RESULTING FROM LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS,
> WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION,
> ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THIS
> SOFTWARE.

 

My apologies in advance if this isn't formatted in an ideal way, this is the first time I've attempted to ask a question on here 😅

3
  • Or just typographical changes in general to ISC, which doesn't have a "but changing it is not allowed" section
    – Dasein
    Dec 26 '21 at 3:03
  • 1
    You should not change any of the official ISC license language, not even punctuation or a typo. Don't even think about it. The language is the way it is (and as published on 'official' websites such as opensource.org ). If you want a different license then choose one of the official licenses. If you don't stick to the official license language you risk that your project will be ignored by the community for the reason of using a 'strange' (uncommon) license. Dec 27 '21 at 17:45
  • @Martin_in_AUT So it would be permitted to completely replace it with something like MIT? Even with the "this permission notice" provision being worded differently? I worry that would be an issue since the MIT text isn't technically the same even if it does have the same implied permissions granted. The original project that the files have come from isn't my own, and i'm not a contributor either
    – Dasein
    Jan 2 at 0:32
1

Many people are considering the ISC license and the MIT license as equivalent w.r.t. the rights, conditions and disclaimer. I am a subscriber to that position. You can find respective opinions here and here.

Others mention that there is a distinct difference, as MIT mentions 'sublicensing' while ISC does not mention it.

However, the ISC License states "Permission to use, copy, modify, and/or distribute this software for any purpose with or without fee is hereby granted."(emphasis added) Most people will say that this language covers all situations that would otherwise be described as 'sublicensing', and in the absence of any language preventing sublicensing it can safely be assumed that it is included.

With the words "have its license edited to MIT's text" you appear to refer to the process of re-licensing the project. I believe it is good practice to seek the consensus of all significant contributors before you consider re-licensing a project. If you are the only contributor the decision-making is easier. If you cannot achieve consensus you might need to fork the project. But then, with the rights, conditions and disclaimer being equivalent, you would be able to re-license from ISC to MIT.

2
  • So (and I know people may consider this redundant given the similarities) if I had my own repo with the files, I could switch it out without any concern? Provided I keep the original (C) name & date line from the original creator of course
    – Dasein
    Jan 2 at 0:27
  • Seems that the project has been dormant for a while now too and don't want to break the terms of the license with that "permission notice" not being the same, and then get a takedown on Github
    – Dasein
    Jan 2 at 0:35
1

You cannot change the license of a project for which you are not the sole copyright holder, in the sense that you could replace the license with another.

The ISC license is permissive though. So you can add your own changes under a license of your choice, for example under the MIT license. The software in question would then contain both the ISC and MIT license notices.

You cannot remove the ISC license notice because the license clearly requires that “the above copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies”. Even if the MIT and ISC are semantically equivalent, you are required to preserve that particular notice. You could only remove the ISC license notice once you've removed all of the original's copyrightable aspects from your version.

1
  • And possibly, not even then (see "Ship of Theseus").
    – MadHatter
    Jan 16 at 9:25
0

If you fork this project, you can add MIT license for your changes and your code. The original code will be licensed under ISC license. If using ISC license is the problem for you, I recommend to add MIT license as "LICENSE" and ISC License in "NOTICE". But it's nonsense and it makes using the code more complicated.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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