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Can I change the copyright holder name when using a project of MIT license ? Example: Changing 'john' to 'Justin' in below license ?

Copyright 2018 john

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.

Follow up questions :

  • Can I do some modifications on the code and then change the name to my own name ?

  • what kind of flexibility does MIT license allow in terms of changing the license text ?

  • If that is not possible , can I change the whole license from MIT to something like GPL3 ? What are the implications ?

  • I would be more concerned about plagiarism than copyright violation when considering this kind of change. That is, do you think that others will look kindly on your actions, if they investigate the code's history and learn the whole story? – Brilliand Sep 27 at 0:09
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  • Can I do some modifications on the code and then change the name to my own name ?

Yes to the modifications, no to the change. As the licence says:

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

As now both you and the original author have a copyright interest in the software, you should add a line that says, eg,

Copyright 2019 Natesh Bhat

That both honours your obligation to include the original copyright notice, and includes your new notice under the same protections.

  • what kind of flexibility does MIT license allow in terms of changing the license text?

Not much; see "this permission notice shall be included". The original author has allowed you to do pretty much whatever you want with the code, provided you honour two conditions (retain his/her copyright notice, retain the text of the MIT licence). They're not onerous conditions, so it's simplest to honour them - and if you don't, you lose the rights to use, copy, modify, etc. the software.

  • If that is not possible, can I change the whole license from MIT to something like GPL3 ?

Now we move onto contentious ground. As I write at more length here, I believe that you can use that code as part of a greater whole, all of which is under the combined terms of both the MIT and the GPLv3 licences, which in practice means "under the terms of GPLv3, which include keeping copyright statements and the licence text intact". This is not dual-licensing, where the recipient picks which to honour; it is a requirement to honour the terms of both licences with respect to the resulting code. As you can read elsewhere in the linked question, this position is not universally held. I'm not aware of anywhere that this has been tested in court, so all statements on the subject are primarily theoretical.

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