MPL reads (emphasis mine):

1.7. “Larger Work”

means a work that combines Covered Software with other material, in a separate file or files, that is not Covered Software.

3.3. Distribution of a Larger Work

You may create and distribute a Larger Work under terms of Your choice, provided that You also comply with the requirements of this License for the Covered Software. <...>

Does this mean that if

  1. my project contains more then 1 file,
  2. I accept contributions only to 1 file at a time,
  3. I require licensing contributions under MPL

then I can freely relicense my project with all contributions as my project would always be a larger work?

Even more, if I just add an icon to whatever project, it would cover both points 1 & 3 as it would be more then 1 file & hardly anyone would contribute to an icon.

  • The title of your question and the body of your question seem to ask different things. With regard to your title question, the Mozilla organization itself doesn't use its license as a "contributor license agreement", but uses a separate document. One of the terms of that agreement is that your contribution must be under the MPL or some compatible license. Aug 19, 2016 at 19:43
  • @GlennRanders-Pehrson I don't understand what kind of difference you see. Thanks for the info on Mozilla, but I wasn't asking what agreement do they use, I was asking if MPL can be managed to be used as such agreement. Though, you may suggest another title. Aug 21, 2016 at 1:08
  • "Can I accept MPL-licensed file contributions to my non-MPL project?" Aug 21, 2016 at 19:53
  • @GlennRanders-Pehrson that's an interesting question and I probably should ask it too, but that's very different from what I ask. I was implying that I license my project under MPL too. Also, the question is not if I can accept the files - that depends on the license, the question is will it have the result I expect. Aug 22, 2016 at 22:13
  • "freely relicense" threw me off. I thought it implied you would license your project under some other open source license. So, your question is (I think) "Can I accept MPL-licensed file contributions to my MPL project?" which seems to me something that is allowed. Aug 22, 2016 at 22:26

1 Answer 1


It's easy to misunderstand the intent of Section 3.3. I did, too.

The answer is not exactly. The work as a whole, and its executables, may be under the terms of your choice. The MPL-covered source files whose object code is being distributed must always remain freely available under the MPL, meaning their recipients would be free to fork the project back into an MPL-licensed version. Bear in mind Section 3.1: "You may not attempt to alter or restrict the recipients’ rights in the Source Code Form." Each Contributor is not only a Contributor, but a licensee ("You") to the Contributions of other Contributors, so this section will apply to you as the theoretical project lead.

  • I do understand that I still have to provide contributions under MPL, but as I get it it doesn't prevent me from relicensing the whole thing if I do provide them. Aug 15, 2016 at 2:40
  • @ZeroUnderscoreOu Exactly right.
    – EMBLEM
    Aug 15, 2016 at 2:44

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