A directory contains a program's source code, a file named "LICENSE" that indicates that the program is licensed under license A, and a library ("lib.c") containing license B. A is wider and less specific than B because it applies to multiple files without specifying them.

What happens by default in the case wherein A and B are different? Does A apply to lib.c?

  • How are conflicts resolved?
    1. Do B's provisions override the conflicting provisions in A?
    2. Do A's provisions override the conflicting provisions in B?
    3. Do the most restrictive provisions prevail?
    4. Do the most permissive provisions prevail?
    5. Is A ignored entirely for lib.c?

I was unable to find an answer to this question through Google but common sense suggests that either

  • A is always ignored or
  • if the licenses conflict, then solution #1 is implemented.

An article (under the heading "Conflicting provisions") that I found explains that in contracts with conflicting provisions more specific provisions prevail over wider provisions. I don't know the degree whereto this conflict resolution applies here but I imagine that it could imply solution #1 if the licenses are combined. That still does not answer the initial question about whether A applies to lib.c or not but I presume that it applies unless B explicitly states otherwise.

You might say that this is balderdash and that I should just clear up the ambiguity in the documentation and I guess that you would be correct but say that to everybody else.

The compilation result's licensing is not on this question's topic.

  • There are way too many variables to give a universal answer. For example some licenses, depending on how the covered work is linked, requires the overall project adhere to that license. Some other licenses allow sub-portions of code to be licensed differently (I believe MIT does). There is no "by default" here because there is no generic case.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 10 at 12:51

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