I know you can't take someone else's code and change it from GPL to MIT, but if you are the only contributor to a repository can you freely switch it from GPL to MIT?


1 Answer 1


If you published code once under GPL, that version of your code is GPL code, that is nothing you can change again. Someone else (in fact, thousands of people) could have made a copy, that copy is under GPL, the GPL text is part of the code, and you cannot enforce anybody to change his copies "just because you wish to".

However, if you create and publish a new version of the code, you can change your license to whatever your want for that newer version. That is true even if the only effective code change is the license itself. IANAL, but as long as you are the one and only copyright holder (which I assume, since you wrote you are the only contributor), you can do with your code and the usage rights you grant to others whatever you want.

  • "However, if you create and publish a new version of the code." Does a commit count as creating and publishing a new version of the code, or do I explicitly have to create a new repository with the same code except for the license change? Because I would prefer not having to do that.
    – semicolon
    May 28, 2015 at 20:22
  • 7
    @semicolon: you probably did not get my point. This has nothing to do with the way you publish your files to the world, if you use a repository, an ftp server, a bunch of cdroms, or print your source code in written form to a T shirt. If you are the copyright holder, you can do what your want with the code. The only thing you can not to is to tell people: you took a copy of my former GPL licensed code (and maybe forked it still under GPL, as required), now please change the license of that version afterwards.
    – Doc Brown
    May 28, 2015 at 20:29

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