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My project is a fork of a project that comes with the MIT license and nobody wants to change the license that applies to the software. However, some of the content that is also stored on GitHub is not freely available. We have permission to use some of the photos for this project only. If they were to show up in a fork someplace, the photographer should be able to enforce his copyright.

Should I add an extra line to license about the photographic content?

  • 2
    You might be interested to know that as soon as you put something on a public GitHub repo, you allow forking and viewing by the TOS, even without a license. So GitHub might not be the right place for you, depending on what permissions you have on those photos. – Zimm i48 Jan 2 '17 at 19:35
  • @Zimmi48 been able to view and/or fork a repository doesn't give any right of use or modification. – David Jan 5 '17 at 17:48
  • @David: you are absolutely correct. – Zimm i48 Jan 5 '17 at 17:51
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Sure, wherever you're mentioning the license (in the README, a file named COPYING), just include the various licenses and briefly describe what they apply to.

All images are copyright Joe Smith and used by permission for this project only.

All code is copyright 2016 Example Project Authors under the MIT license.

<license text>

For a rather complicated example of this sort of piecemeal licensing, see about:license in Firefox.

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The MIT licence only applies to the

software and associated documentation files

all together defined as the "Software" (in accordance with the US laws as well), and the copyright notice and the permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

The definition of software may vary between countries due to different laws; however in the USA (I'm now referring to US laws as MIT is in the States) Software is legally defined as "Computer programs that comprise a series of instructions, rules, routines, or statements, regardless of the media in which recorded, that allow or cause a computer to perform a specific operation or series of operations", and associated documentation files. Only photos of the boards taken during design meetings are considered part of the Software and are covered by the Software license.

As those photos are artwork of an artist are not be considered software themselves.

I would update the README stating that your fork is using external resources that are not licensed under the MIT, inviting to double check the COPYING file for further information; and update the COPYING file as follow:

All of the photos of this project have been made available to this project by John Doe and are copyrighted; any other use must be authorized by the photographer which holds all the rights for those photos.

Any other file of this project is available under the MIT license as follow:

Copyright [YEAR] [COPYRIGHT HOLDERS]

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), 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 to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

  • Thanks! I'll add those lines to the readme and add a copying file. That makes me feel a lot better and I'm sure the photographer will appreciate the less ambiguous use of his photos. – pixelfairy Dec 30 '16 at 5:04
  • "Which doesn't affect photos." - doesn't that depend on how the photos are coupled to the "software"? At least the Paint.NET project apparently used to feel like they had to explicitly exclude graphics resources from the MIT License, implying that the MIT License would otherwise well cover said resources. – O. R. Mapper Dec 30 '16 at 21:59
  • Likewise, answers to this other question imply "the software" can very well be a bunch of HTML files and images, which could again include photos. – O. R. Mapper Dec 30 '16 at 22:08
  • I updated the answer to clarify your doubt. – David Dec 30 '16 at 22:56
  • 3
    This is IMHO incorrect. Media, images are part of the software or the doc alright so this argument makes no sense to me. – Philippe Ombredanne Jan 4 '17 at 14:36

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