What should I do if someone is breaking the terms of my licensed software?

To create a small example for you, I'll take a section out of the Apache 2.0 license:

You may add Your own copyright statement to Your modifications and
may provide additional or different license terms and conditions
for use, reproduction, or distribution of Your modifications, or
for any such Derivative Works as a whole, provided Your use,
reproduction, and distribution of the Work otherwise complies with
the conditions stated in this License.

Let's say that the person modifying the source "accidentally" re-licensed work that I had done.

  • Do you want this to be about a violation of the Apache license specifically? Answers will vary based on the license, and for the Apache one, there doesn't seem to be a very defined process - see issues.apache.org/jira/browse/LEGAL-98 Jun 30, 2015 at 7:22
  • That JIRA is about the ASF's own enforcement (or not), not about how an individual who had used the AL might go about enforcing.
    – bmargulies
    Aug 8, 2015 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


This is a difficult position to be in.

BUT... Here are some things you can do:

  1. Go on the persons website, look for contact information. Email or phone the person and ask them politely to take down / remove the stolen information.

  2. If they don't, the next step is to gather evidence. Collect proof that your work has been stolen.

  3. Hire a lawyer. Assuming the work that was stolen is VERY important to you this is your best line of defense. Although lawyers can be expensive copyright law is complicated and lawyers can help. Show them the evidence you have collected and they can help pursue the theif.

  • In addition to this, there may be also be places you can get free advice. I haven't used any of this myself before so can't vouch for it, but the Software Freedom Law Centre comes to mind as a possibility.
    – Tim Malone
    Aug 20, 2016 at 3:14

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