Skip to main content
OverflowAI is here! AI power for your Stack Overflow for Teams knowledge community. Learn more
70 votes

If I change the license of my project, can someone use the old license by navigating through Git history?

This is a tricky question. Open source licenses are generally irrevocable. Once you publish something under a license, you can relicense future versions but cannot retroactively change the license. ...
amon's user avatar
  • 39k
60 votes
Accepted

Can I relicense an abandoned GPL project if the copyright owners are no longer responsive?

The GPL, and software licensing in general, must be understood in the wider context of copyright. Only the copyright holder of a software can issue a license. You have no rights to the software, ...
amon's user avatar
  • 39k
55 votes
Accepted

Do I have to change license of fork if mainstream changes license?

Not only are you not required to change the licence, you are not permitted to. The code you took at the time was, according to you, conveyed under GPLv3. You've worked on it, and made a derivative ...
MadHatter's user avatar
  • 49.2k
45 votes
Accepted

Relicensing content under CC-BY-SA

I don't think so, no. CC-BY-SA 3.0 allows in s4 that You may Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work only under the terms of this License ... This Section ... applies to the Work as incorporated ...
MadHatter's user avatar
  • 49.2k
44 votes

Can there be a copyright on negative code?

For me, this exposes a weakness in the mental model many coders seem to have about the operation of copyright. Consider a pile of bricks, representing code contributions to a work. In one (...
MadHatter's user avatar
  • 49.2k
29 votes

Is it possible to change the current GPLv3 license to something else?

Anyone who received the code under the GPLv3 can redistribute it under those terms forever (and so, too, may those recipients, etc.) so if the set of recipients of your code so far is a nonempty set, ...
apsillers's user avatar
  • 36.2k
24 votes
Accepted

Can I relicense my own GPL code into Apache/MIT?

As the copyright holder you are in no way bound by any open source license you choose to distribute your own work under. While you cannot retroactively change the license terms of a particular ...
Mans Gunnarsson's user avatar
23 votes
Accepted

How to deal with licences after forking a project?

No, you are not allowed to change the copyright notice. Indeed, the license text states pretty clearly: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or ...
Zimm i48's user avatar
  • 5,597
20 votes
Accepted

Remove BSD LICENSE file while importing code into GPL project

The short answer is no. You cannot remove a BSD license notice, otherwise you are no longer licensed per the BSD (many variants) that all share the essential requirement to retain the copyright and ...
Philippe Ombredanne's user avatar
20 votes
Accepted

Can I change the license of a forked project to the MIT if the license of the parent project has changed from the GPL to the MIT?

That depends. If you didn't make any changes in your fork of the project, you can just update your fork to include the latest upstream changes and get the license change along with it. If the ...
Bart van Ingen Schenau's user avatar
18 votes
Accepted

How does re-licensing without the approval of authors work (eg, wikimedia case)?

You are correct that re-licensing virtually always requires the permission of the copyright holder. This was a rather exceptional case. All material on Wikipedia used to be under the license GFDL v1.2,...
apsillers's user avatar
  • 36.2k
18 votes
Accepted

Relicensing an MIT licensed project under the GPL that has non code contributions from others

Just like everyone can take your MIT-licensed software and make it proprietary without having to ask all of its authors for permission, you can take your MIT-licensed software and license it under the ...
unor's user avatar
  • 5,670
18 votes
Accepted

License validity of unreleased project

You can do nothing. Releasing software has nothing to do with version numbering; it is a matter of conveying it (which includes "making it available") to others, and making the licence terms under ...
MadHatter's user avatar
  • 49.2k
17 votes
Accepted

Can the Linux kernel be released under GPLv3?

When this question was asked, the kernel's COPYING file started with the following comment (second paragraph): Also note that the only valid version of the GPL as far as the kernel is concerned is ...
Stephen Kitt's user avatar
  • 4,203
17 votes

Can there be a copyright on negative code?

Not all changes are of sufficient novelty to constitute something copyrightable, whether they are additions or deletions. For a simple example, consider any old out of copyright song or hymn of five ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
17 votes

How can I protect the code from being 'rephrased' by AI to avoid license limitations?

I'm not sure anything needs to be done. Historically, the creation of a translation of a copyrighted work required the permission of the rightsholder. Others have argued that a machine translation ...
MadHatter's user avatar
  • 49.2k
17 votes
Accepted

Can the GNU LGPL be removed from a piece of software?

Interesting one. Assuming the publisher is the sole rightsholder, yes, they are perfectly free to relicense the work; however, they can't revoke the licence on existing copies that are already out ...
MadHatter's user avatar
  • 49.2k
15 votes
Accepted

PySimpleGUI, until now, has been distributed under the GPLV3, but just became a subscription model. How does that work?

Isn't the prior version still FOSS? Licences do not inhere in software, but instead their obligations attach to the recipient through the act of conveyance. If you received a copy of this software ...
MadHatter's user avatar
  • 49.2k
14 votes

Can I relicense my own GPL code into Apache/MIT?

If you hold the copyright to some code (usually, because you are the author), you may license that code however you please, and you may issue different licenses at any time. The matter of revoking ...
apsillers's user avatar
  • 36.2k
14 votes

Can I relicense an abandoned GPL project if the copyright owners are no longer responsive?

Copyright does not allow for that. You need to wait 70 years after the copyright holders' deaths to do this. In that respect it is no different from a closed source license: If you want to change the ...
Ole Tange's user avatar
  • 241
14 votes
Accepted

If a project only includes a copy of the GPL, can it be relicensed under any version?

Your hunch of "no" seems correct to me. The GPL FAQ has this to say about standalone copies of the GPL without an explicit license grant: Is it enough just to put a copy of the GNU GPL in ...
apsillers's user avatar
  • 36.2k
13 votes
Accepted

Is the Maximum Use License for Everybody (MULE) a FOSS license?

Forbidding sale of the software has precedent in OSI-approved licenses, for example SIL-OFL 1.1 says: Neither the Font Software nor any of its individual components, in Original or Modified ...
amon's user avatar
  • 39k
13 votes
Accepted

Can GPLv2 licensed software be re-published under LGPLv2.1?

I do not think you are reading the compatibility table correctly. When I look at the intersection of I want to copy code under GPLv2 and I want to licence my code under LGPLv2.1 I see a box that says ...
MadHatter's user avatar
  • 49.2k
12 votes
Accepted

Why does the clause 3 of 4-clause BSD makes it incompatible with GPL?

The GPL does not normally require licence holders to put any special acknowledgments in their advertising material. GPLv3 s7 says that any of six additional restrictions may be added to the normal ...
MadHatter's user avatar
  • 49.2k
12 votes
Accepted

Does reimplementing GPLv2 code in another language create a derivative work that also falls under the GPL?

Yes. A derivative is a derivative. Porting existing code to another language also counts as making a modification. NOT a derivative is a so-called blackbox implementation. That is the case when you ...
planetmaker's user avatar
  • 11.2k
11 votes
Accepted

Impact of accepting a new open source licence type when updating software

Does XYZ software version 1.1 still retain any MIT License benefits for features not altered during the upgrade from XYZ software version 1.0? No. A license is attached to a specific set of code ...
Philippe Ombredanne's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

How to retain complete copyright on a GitHub open source project

The three freedoms you say you want to give (totally open for view, totally open for editing/contributing, free to use/free to download) are not contentious, so I'll focus on the restrictions you want ...
MadHatter's user avatar
  • 49.2k
11 votes
Accepted

What happens if I stop using a GPL library?

This depends on who you accepted contributions from while the code is under the GPL license. If you didn't accept contributions from others and you are the sole copyright holder, then you can change ...
Bart van Ingen Schenau's user avatar
11 votes

If I change the license of my project, can someone use the old license by navigating through Git history?

if the LICENSE file is added in a single commit, then git rebase -i is an easy way to remove it. git rebase -i <root commit> will give you a list of all commits after the first one in an editor....
eMBee's user avatar
  • 211

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible