This is the first time I'm handling licenses and could use some guidance in this matter.

I have developed a piece of Java software where parts of the code is derived from different classes licensed with the MIT license but different copyright holders. The plan is to upload it to GitHub as open source software.

What license should I apply to my software? Am I bound to use the MIT License when parts of the code is derived from MIT licensed software?

Below is one of the MIT licenses from where I have derived code.

The MIT License

Copyright (c) 2004-2010, Sun Microsystems, Inc., Kohsuke Kawaguchi, Eric Lefevre-Ardant, Erik Ramfelt, Michael B. Donohue, Alan Harder, Manufacture Francaise des Pneumatiques Michelin, Romain Seguy

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy...

If I use the MIT license, should I add the names from the copyright in the above license into my new license? I feel I should acknowledge the use of their code in some way, so is having my name + their names in the copyright enough or should I do it in some other way?

2 Answers 2


The MIT license doesn't "bind" you to use the MIT license for your application, but it's a simple way to comply with the license if you haven't got pressing reasons to use another license. Yes, all you need to do is to add your own copyright line:

 The MIT License

 Copyright (c) 2016 Preyfix
 Copyright (c) 2004-2010, Sun Microsystems, Inc., Kohsuke Kawaguchi...
 Permission is hereby granted...

If you have only incorporated some small amount of code from another MIT project, you could write

 The MIT License

 Copyright (c) 2016 Your Name
 Portions Copyright (c) 2014 Snippet Author
 Permission is hereby granted...

I don't see any mention of the phrase "Portions Copyright..." in US copyright law, but Google turns up nearly a million instances of the phrase, so it's commonly used. I've also seen a few (about 300) instances of "Significant Portions Copyright..."

  • Thank you! Then I'll stick to the MIT license and add a new copyright line with my name. :)
    – Preyfix
    Sep 21, 2016 at 18:27
  • Wouldn't it be considered as a modification of the copyright claim to add Portions? I wouldn't risk that but instead, if I wanted to make it clear that only a small part is under such copyright, I would explicitly say The subpart xx is: Copyright (c) 2014 Snippet Author
    – Zimm i48
    Oct 10, 2016 at 15:28

You are not in any way bound to use MIT license, you can use any opensource or even closed source or commercial license. As far as I know you need to put some kind of attribution and the MIT license itself to the corresponding parts of the code (but not sure how exactly, please read about it. Other than that you are free to do whatever you want, but consider the differences between licenses, as they are quite big (especially between "permissive" like MIT and "copyleft" like GPL). Good luck!

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