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Let's say a project was called projectMIT and it was written in python. it was not maintained and as of now, it is publicly archived on github. Someone re-wrote it as project(MIT)-rust with WTFPL license. (In the readme of the project(MIT)-rust, it says it was an inspiration of projectMIT.)

Now, if we would like to use the project(MIT)-rust (or projectWTFPL-rust) as part our own project,

  1. What are some nice ways to give both, projectMIT and project(MIT)-rust, credit while we are using projectWTFPL-rust?
  2. Or can an MIT project re-license with another license?
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    The question as written is unanswerable: there are too many unknowns. If you specify exactly which two projects you're talking about, things might get clearer.
    – Mark
    Aug 2, 2022 at 3:26

3 Answers 3

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I don't disagree with Philip's answer, which is composed almost entirely of good points. But I also don't see the problem.

The requirements of the MIT license are pretty easily satisfied. If you were to restore to your codebase the license text, and the original project's copyright statements, you'd've satisfied it. If you were to add in the copyright statements from the intermediate WTFPL-licensed project, you'd've satisfied your requirements in the original question (credit for all preceding authors), as well. You could license your own codebase under any MIT-compatible licence you pleased.

I agree that the WTFPL is unusably woolly, but its choice is certainly strongly indicative of the intermediate author's desire not to constrain what happens downstream. It seems unlikely to me that either set of authors would have a beef with you, were you to do as I suggest; and it seems vanishingly unlikely that either would get anywhere proceeding against you for copyright violation.

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  • I suppose it is theoretically possible the author of the WTFPL project could raise some kind of slander of title claim against you (for suggesting that their code is a copyright violation), but I tend to imagine that would probably just annoy the judge.
    – Kevin
    Sep 1, 2023 at 22:40
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If you believe the WTFPL project is actually a derivative work of the MIT project, you should not use it as it is a copyright violation, and it cannot be legally distributed.

However, you have provided little evidence to support your assertion that it is in fact a derivative work; "inspired by" certainly does not meet that threshold. There is no simple test you can use here to determine if it is a derivative work or not, some cases will clearly be one side of the line or the other, other cases will be hard (and may be ruled differently in different jurisdictions).

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  • Can you please give a bit more information on the copyright violation since MIT only restriction of Including Copyright and Including License? I cannot provide much evidence since I didn't write the code (it would not be obvious to me without the line of "inspired by" from the readme. Maybe I was just thinking too much without evidence. Now it is written in rust, then we can't prove it is a derivative work then ? since it was written with other than rust?
    – Maxfield
    Aug 1, 2022 at 19:50
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    @user95432 However, if I write a new program (in a different language) that does the same thing as the original, that has the same functionality as the original, that's not necessarily a derivative work. The devil is in the details.
    – Brandin
    Aug 2, 2022 at 6:57
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    If you think that project-wtfpl is actually a derivative of project-mit, then technically, it seems like you could take your copy project-wtfpl and just "relicense" it back to MIT (as it should be). Since WTFPL allows you to "do whatever the f. you want to," that seems to include relicensing. Of course that's the problem with the WTFPL. It seems to allow everything with a blanket statement but it's too vague on specifics like this. In the FAQ, it is said that you can relicense, for example, but not in the WTFPL license text itself.
    – Brandin
    Aug 2, 2022 at 7:06
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    @user95432 Good questions are those which have enough detail to be answerable. Yours does not really - as suggested in a comment to the question, please link to the two specific projects you are referring to, rather than forcing people to work through your quite possibly incorrect assumptions. Aug 2, 2022 at 7:48
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    @user95432 I would advise you to distinguish between "giving credit" and "including the license text". For MIT-like licenses, including the license text as required is a requirement of the license. It's not really got anything to do with giving credit. Giving credit is a separate thing that could happen regardless of the license.
    – Brandin
    Aug 2, 2022 at 8:27
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You can take any MIT licensed code and change license to any. But you need to preserve the original code license text and copyright notice. You can put it to a separate folder and add to About program page. Also use the 0BSD instead of WTFPL.

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