A while ago I released some code into the public domain, using CC0. I am now thinking, that I would like to extend that work, but have it under the MIT license -- the extensions at least.

I don't mind that the existing work remains in the public domain.

Is this possible? I would assume it is since public domain is the most permissive state possible.

  • 2
    If its your work it's entirely within your rights to simply change the license going forward to whatever you want.
    – user3570
    Jul 29, 2016 at 6:04
  • The new work will be mine. I doubt the existing work (which I released public domain) still counts as mine in an ownership sense. Jul 29, 2016 at 7:10
  • @Oxinabox I think you can still claim ownership of it, but you couldn't stop others from using it of course.
    – Tim Malone
    Jul 29, 2016 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


Short answer: You can do what you want.

If you are the original author of a work, you have the right to do anything with it[1]. Whether you gave it away under some license before doesn't matter. You can release it under a different license, if you want to, whether you modify it or not. If you released it under some "cannot sell" license you could still sell it. The license you gave other people with their copy doesn't affect you, only the people who got it from you with that license.

Additionally, if something was released into the public domain, that means that anyone is allowed to do anything (including all of the things above), not just the original author.

[1] Unless it was written as a "work for hire" and the contract had specific legal restrictions to the contrary.

  • Does this still apply if it wasn't me who wrote it originally? (also CC0, when functioning under its first clause isn't a license. You answer uses the word license several times. Does it still apply?) Jul 30, 2016 at 2:27
  • I added a paragraph about public domain, does that help you? Whether CC0 says it's a license, release into the public domain is actually a form of license, it's a license that grants the licensee all rights.
    – MAP
    Jul 30, 2016 at 2:36

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