Since licenses could also be viewed as IP, is it possible to release a license under another (or even the same) license, which could impose conditions on the usage of said license?


All (non-trivial) licenses are copyrighted so any use you make of them is subject to the terms under which they are released. For example, the GNU GPL v3 explicitly states:

Copyright © 2007 Free Software Foundation, Inc. https://fsf.org/

Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

Other licenses may not be quite as explicit about the terms under which they are released, but the same principle applies.

  • So funnily enough: The GPL is not licensed under GPL terms (not even close) - just a fun fact :)
    – Raven
    Jan 12 at 17:09
  • 1
    @Raven: This is intentional, because they consider the GPL an expression of their opinion (of how software ought to be licensed), and they think that opinions should be subject to different (stricter) rules than other content.
    – Kevin
    Jan 13 at 3:46
  • @Raven: because it will cause just problems. Imagine: you can change the license file, but the changes will not affect the agreed license. So you have a license, and a license file with a different license. And if you distribute the program, you mislead the downstream user (and so you are liable). It is "copyleft", not public domain. GPL is a stricter license: it has a lot of requirements on what you must comply if you distribute code. Jan 13 at 10:51
  • I would just criticize the wording "any use" especially since you emphasized this. Copyright only protects copying of works, not "use" per se, and a license can only specify under what conditions you're allowed to "copy" and "distribute" the document. Using a work in some other way permitted by law, without copying it, and without (re)distributing it, is outside the scope of any license. Of course, the normal way you'd "use" a license is probably to attach a copy (which of course us copying), but still, it's easy to imagine other ways that one could use the text that don't involve copying.
    – Brandin
    Jan 14 at 8:14

Yes, e.g. a lawyer can create a tools to build licenses from blocks text. It may license you to build one license, or maybe more licenses, including also your address or the court which should handle disputes. Movies, musics have similar "templates".

If you go to a lawyer to create a new license, you may get a restriction on the use (just for one project you agreed), so yes.

Just it makes not much sense for open source: you can remove all code and create a new project, so you can use the old license and you still conform on it. If you cannot do it, the original license is not open source. Also the "restriction of court" is often not be considered open source (excess burden on distributor/modifier of code).

And also if you change the license text, the code is still licensed with the old license. So you may deceive the users.

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