Changing Free Software licene of a forked project


I have been seeing a lot of MIT licensed projects, and have been using them constantly in a lot of my projects. As a part of my job, we use a design template called AdminLTE ( which is licensed under the MIT license. I love the template, but I dont like a lot of the parts of the theme. Like the default colours, the curved corners, the shadow, a few more.

So I am planning on forking the project and make it more cleaner according to me, and publish it back.

Now, the question is, the forked project should again only be a MIT ?? Can I make a GPL or AGPL Licensed ?

Also is the vice versa possible ? Taking an GPL license project, fork it and make it more permissive ? (According to me this is not possible, but curious ).

What would be the implications of such a license change

PS : I have no intention to take any free software and make it closed.


I have had this doubt for long time. Anybody has an answer?


No not at all. To my understanding once you fork it and made some modifications, you can change the license and also I think you shouldn’t use the same name as the original project in order to avoid confusion of licensing. In short, a permissive license like MIT, BSD can be forked and can be published under GPL.

No you can’t do that, that is where the revolutionary part of GPL lies in. This is the primary difference between permissive licenses like MIT, BSD, etc., and non-permissive licenses like GPL.

If you are planning to write some code and if your code has a copy of some GPL code, then your code should also be released under GPL. GPL is a viral license which spreads in an epidemic fashion.


Though I understand what you are trying to say, please note that the above statement comparing the GPL to a virus is usually used in a derogatory sense. It might be a good idea for us to not describe copyleft licenses in this manner.