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Licensing Guidelines for Patches

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This page is intended to cover some guidelines for licensing when accepting patches for open source projects.


It is acceptable to accept a patch with a copyright section. However, you should never accept a patch that has all rights reserved added to the copyright entry. Patches should never remove a copyright from an existing file.


When a patch adds a new file it should have a licensing header in the file being added that matches or is compatible with the license of the project’s existing file (e.g. GPL or BSD). Patches to an existing file should not alter or remove a copyright, modify an existing license header or add an additional licensing header. If the patch is not original development but is taken from a different project that does not match the license of the existing file (e.g. GPL or BSD) then the person submitting the patch must ensure that the non-matching license is compatible with the license of the existing file (i.e. the license for the patch doesn’t create obligations that conflict with the existing license).

Distribution Rights

People submitting patches certify, by the act of submitting the patch, that they have the right to distribute the code added by the patch and that the submitter has done due diligence to make sure they are not violating someone else’s copyright by submitting the patch. For example if the patch being submitted was obtained from another project, they should preserve the licensing and copyright of the original author and ensure the licensing terms are compatible with the licensing terms of the project to which they are submitting.