I want to use a portion of an existing project that is licensed under MIT. MIT seems to state that I must include their license in my work, but I don't want to use any license for my own work (i.e. unlicensed). Merely copying their license into my project makes it look like they wrote my entire project instead of just a portion of it.

What is the correct way to integrate someone else's open source license into my project such that I am compliant with the requirements of their license, acknowledging their contribution, but remain able to license my own project a different way, including without explicitly putting a license on it?

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    What do you mean with "unlicensing your work"? Do you mean putting it under the unlicense or not putting an explicit license on it? Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 18:53
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    If your work is published without a licence of any kind, it's not open source.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 20:44
  • I mean not explicitly putting a license on it. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 22:58
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    If can not be (Open Source or Free Software) and be un-licenced. The licence is the mechanism to make it Open Source or Free Software. Please read the definitions (start with the free software definition it is easier). Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 19:04
  • @ctrl-alt-delor Nothing in the link you cited says that software must be licensed to be open source or free software. I see no reason, for example, software in the public domain wouldn't qualify. Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 3:21

1 Answer 1


The MIT requirement is no problem for you. Simply include the MIT license in the code that you got under the MIT license. That doesn't affect your own code.

If you don't want to license your own work (i.e. not permit anyone to copy or use it), just put an overall statement: "Copyright 2017 Quolonel Questions, all rights reserved."

If you do want others to have unrestricted use of your code, you could apply the Creative Commons CC0 public declaration to your work.

  • How should I convey which parts are my work and which are not? Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 22:59
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    @QuolonelQuestions the best way would be to keep the imported code in a separate file (with the MIT license as a header comment) or a separate folder (if there are several files).
    – Zimm i48
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 12:18
  • @Zimmi48 It is impractical to keep files separate as I need to edit the source directly. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 14:39
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    OK, in that case you can keep the license text with a preamble saying this file has been modified, here is the original license, here is a link where you can find the original version.
    – Zimm i48
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 15:24

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