Imagine I write a piece of software, which uses some MIT-licensed library. Let's assume that I modified that library.

My software (of which that library is part) produces some content, which I sell at a profit. I do not sell or publish my software.

Am I allowed to do this?

When I sell my content, do I need to include a notice "This content was created using library X" ?


2 Answers 2


Open source licenses deal with redistribution and don't impose restrictions on merely using open source software.

Regarding a requirement to post a notice that you used the library, this is paraphrased from the GNU GPL FAQ:

Copyright law does not give the license grantor
any say in the use of the output people make from their data using
their program. If the user uses their program to enter or convert his
own data, the copyright on the output belongs to him, not to the license

While this talks about the GPL, it's relevant to any copyrighted software. You aren't required to include a notice, if the license doesn't say so. The MIT license imposes no such restriction, so you don't have to include a notice that you used the library.


Open source licenses operate under copyright law, which governs permission to do certain things with the "creative work" under consideration. It covers permission to use, to modify, and to copy (get it yourself and pass it to somebody else). Open source is about allowing:

  1. Free distribution: Can pass it to whomever you want.
  2. Source code is available: So you can study how it works, build it yourself for your use (say another operating system or architecture).
  3. Derived works: It is allowed to change it, and allow to distribute changes under the same conditions you got the original.
  4. No discrimination against groups: No group of people can be excluded.
  5. No restriction of use: Can use it however you want
  6. No restriction of other software: Can not mandate or forbid use with other software.

(there are other provisions, which don't concern us here). So under an open source license, you are allowed to change it for your own use. You can pass your changes to others, but are not obliged to do so, the license can't even ask for you to share your changes with whoever originated the software, or notify them when you pass a copy around.

Note that there are lots of licenses going around, not all of them are truly open source even if they allow free sharing. For example, unrar is distributed freely as source code, but you aren't allow to modify it or study how it works.

Read and understand the license(s) of the stuff you want to use. If in any doubt, and there is a possibility of any significant risk, hire an expert lawyer and ask them.

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