Suppose I want to modify a license. Say I choose the MIT license:

..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 I would like to remove publish and add some restrictions.

Then change the name of the license.

Same question about disclaimers and terms of service, for instance, pick the Google terms of service and modify it to adapt to particular needs of a project.

1 Answer 1


Yes, a license, or terms of service, are eligible for copyright.

The GPL itself, for example, is not available under a free license.

Your question is specifically about the MIT/expat license. This is a very simple license, and there are only so many ways you can express an idea in, especially in legalese.

When making a new license based on another one, and you want to avoid being a derivative work for copyright reasons, the best way to do that is with a clean room design.

The same goes for terms of service and the like.

That all said and done, there are several reasons why this may be a bad idea in the first place, detailed in How can a "crayon" license be a problem?

  • I see. At least we have many licenses to choose. In case of terms of service (TOS) it seems to me more complicated, big enterprises take care of possible problems doing well constructed TOS, that's why I wondered if it can be reused with some modifications in other projects.
    – Caos21
    Dec 5, 2015 at 18:24
  • In my answer, I took the legal pov. From a practical pov, I doubt anyone would care if you violate the copyright of their ToS by creating an unlicensed derivative from it.
    – Martijn
    Dec 5, 2015 at 19:26
  • It should be noted that the Creative Commons licenses are all available under the most permissive Creative Commons license (Attribution), as is nearly everything under the CC umbrella. But those licenses are unsuitable for software.
    – Kevin
    Dec 6, 2015 at 3:53
  • Grosso modo the GPL is a little bit hypocritical or needs some grounds to survive. Do not mind, I am for open source, but we can akways improve.
    – Caos21
    Dec 6, 2015 at 4:51
  • @Caos21 in answering questions I prefer to stay away as much as possible from any subjective judgement like hypocrisy; I just try to answer how things are, but I can certainly see your point.
    – Martijn
    Dec 6, 2015 at 14:49

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