I'm on an organization's Bylaws Committee and am using a (currently private) GitHub repository to track our proposed changes/amendments. Once the committee's work is complete, the intent is to make the repo public so other sister organizations can use it as a starting point.

I was considering including a Free/Open Source license like CC0 to make things official, but it occurred to me that we'd like to make sure that anyone reading a modified copy of the bylaws knows these are not the official bylaws of organization X.

Is there a simple way to concretely require that any modified version either remove references to my organization, or that it be clearly indicated in some way that the content has been modified? Is there an existing FLOSS-like license that would be a better fit than CC0? Should I even bother including a license at all?


2 Answers 2


For example, the TeX license states that any modified version has to be distributed under a different name. This is allowed by the Open Source Initiative.

But please read and understand David Wheeler's "Make Your Open Source Software GPL-Compatible. Or Else.". The essay is oldish, but still very much relevant. Knitting your own license is (a) a task for an expert, (b) creates an island that can't share anything with other work (unless done very carefully), thus isolating it.

  • 1
    Regarding your last paragraph, note that the OP is most likely storing documents in the repository, not software. That makes the essay essentially irrelevant. Mar 22, 2020 at 7:27
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau, documents aren't immutable, I might want to e.g. translate, or use a part of your book in my writeup, or just fix errors.
    – vonbrand
    Jun 27, 2020 at 1:32
  • Why would you need a GPL compatible license for those things? The GPL is not commonly used for documents. Jun 27, 2020 at 5:39

One possibility is the zLib License, which includes this requirement:

  1. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be misrepresented as being the original software.

It's true the zLib License is intended for software, but it still might suit your purposes in this case.

Full text of license:

zlib License

(C) [year] [fullname]

This software is provided 'as-is', without any express or implied
warranty.  In no event will the authors be held liable for any damages
arising from the use of this software.

Permission is granted to anyone to use this software for any purpose,
including commercial applications, and to alter it and redistribute it
freely, subject to the following restrictions:

1. The origin of this software must not be misrepresented; you must not
   claim that you wrote the original software. If you use this software
   in a product, an acknowledgment in the product documentation would be
   appreciated but is not required.
2. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be
   misrepresented as being the original software.
3. This notice may not be removed or altered from any source distribution.
  • That is basically a requirement of all licenses - and of civil conduct. While this licenses words it well and explicitly, it's by no means something unique. Jun 25, 2020 at 8:19
  • 1
    zLib is just one example -- there are many others. See choosealicense.com/appendix/ and look for licenses with a dot in the "State Changes" column.
    – jkdev
    Jun 25, 2020 at 8:24
  • Also, "civil conduct" is not legally enforceable. Copyright licenses are.
    – jkdev
    Jun 25, 2020 at 8:25
  • Of course it is. You may not represent your doing as if I had done that. Jun 25, 2020 at 8:42
  • Wait — are you saying civil conduct is legally enforceable? Or am I misunderstanding what you’re saying?
    – jkdev
    Jun 25, 2020 at 19:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.