GPL licensed software leaving github

This looks potentially serious. New licensing terms just came into force on github and people are deleting their repos to avoid them:


IANAL and will need to leave it to those who grok the whole licensing thing better than I do but as you say this could have very far-reaching consequences.

As if there wasn’t enough to get het up about these days…


I saw this and didn’t understand enough to be sure the impact

Read it as limited to certain subsets of those requiring attribution of certain forms…

Anything requiring attribution (e.g. CC-BY, but also BSD, …)

Hmm Maidsafe should switch over to gitlab. Github is too centralized, and a lot of people heavily rely on their servers. Not a good thing.


I read that too. It contains:

Anything copyleft (GPL, AGPL, LGPL, CC--SA) or requiring attribution (CC-BY-, but also 4-clause BSD, Apache 2 with NOTICE text file, …) are affected. BSD-style licences without advertising clause (MIT/Expat, MirOS, etc.) are probably not affected… if GitHub doesn’t go too far and dissociates excerpts from their context and legal info, but then nobody would be able to distribute it, so that’d be useless.

Seems we need more competition in the git market. What I’m concerned with is so much open source software is on github, like a ridiculous amount.


Oh God! Did this github TOS update just invalidate Maidsafe’s copyright and you know, screw the entire 10 year project due to a legal hiccup?

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What!? That can’t be the case! How can the copyright be inextricably tied to github? Wouldn’t a simple migration solve this? @maidsafe


I strongly suspect that if this was something to get even remotely worried about @nicklambert and/or @dirvine would have done or said something.
If you suddenly see MaidSafe repos being pulled from Github, then I’d be more likely to be concerned.


Yes, it’s pretty easy to install your own copy of gitlab on a private server. Maidsafe should do something like that, or maybe start storing its projects on maidsafe test network before release

:slight_smile: self-promo coming


Any word on this yet?

Hope SAFE’s code is OK!

I can help with a server too if we need to migrate away from GH

As github don’t own the code they host, I would be surprised if they could change the license of it. I am not a lawyer, mind.


I personally don’t see anything to cause any significant concerns here. Fundamentally, by hosting and enabling the sharing of a projects code, no one can change the license of the code if they are not the owner of it, as GitHub clearly aren’t here. But I don’t think that is GitHub’s intention here, my reasons are as follows:

The author of the article that highlighted these concerns draws our attention to section D - User-Generated Content. Before getting into specifics it is worth noting that in their new terms of service the intro of this section states:

Short version: You own content you create, but you allow us certain rights to it, so that we can display and share the content you post. You still have control over your content, and responsibility for it, and the rights you grant us are limited to those we need to provide the service. We have the right to remove content or close accounts if we need to.

Getting into specifics, the first criticism drawn by the author of is in relation to D7 ‘Section D.7 requires the person uploading content to waive any and all attribution rights.

In my view it does not, all this section does it to waiver the requirement of attribution to enable Github to do what it already does: host the data, enable others to view…etc… but this does not wave all ownership and copyright (attribution), as I mentioned previously simply hosting and displaying data does not equate to a transfer of ownership.

The actual content from this section is as follows:

D7. Moral Rights

You retain all moral rights to Content you upload, publish, or submit to any part of the Service, including the rights of integrity and attribution. However, you waive these rights and agree not to assert them against us, to enable us to reasonably exercise the rights granted in Section D.4, but not otherwise. You understand that you will not receive any payment for any of the rights granted in this Section.

To the extent such an agreement is not enforceable by applicable law, you grant GitHub a nonexclusive, revocable, worldwide, royalty-free right to (1) use the Content without attribution strictly as necessary to render the Website and provide the Service; and (2) make reasonable adaptations of the Content as provided in this Section. We need these rights to allow basic functions like search to work.

The next concern raised relates to section D5, specifically:

Section D.5 requires the uploader to grant all other GitHub users the right to “use, display and perform” the work (with no further restrictions attached to it) — while this (likely — I didn’t check) does not exclude the GPL, many others (I believe CC-*-SA) are affected, and…**
**the right to “reproduce your Content solely on GitHub as permitted through GitHub’s functionality”, with no further restructions attached; this is a killer for, I believe, any and all licences falling into the “copyleft” category.

D.5 permits performing, using, and displaying of a work, however, it permits reproducing on GitHub only. Enabling use of the code and displaying it in the absence of a right to reproduce seems like a pretty limited set of rights, and after all, GitHub is a code repository, this is exactly the services we would expect them to provide.

Also I don’t see many other sharing the authors concerns, searches for phrases like ‘problems with github terms of service’ yield no results showing a mass exodus of projects and in fact do contain a couple of posts disagreeing with’s assessment. It would also be commercial suicide for GitHub Inc to piss off copyleft projects, it must be a very sizeable chunk of the projects in there.

Any community concerned at the lack of decentralisation with GitHub please feel free to fork our repositories from time to time and retain locally. This is something that we already do, but dispersing the libraries as far and as wide as possible can only be a good thing.

Apologies for the wordy post.


I like wordy posts when the words are meaningful and helpful like this!

Thanks Nick, you’ve put my mind at rest with your careful explanation. Sorry for the distraction.