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Half of GitHub Code Unsafe To Use (If You Want Open Source)

timothy posted about a year ago | from the but-they-said-to-download dept.

Open Source 218

WebMink writes "GitHub is a great open source hosting site, right? Wrong. There's no requirement that projects on GitHub provide any copyright license, let alone an open source one, so roughly half the projects on GitHub are "all rights reserved" — meaning you could well be violating copyright if you make any use of the code in them. And GitHub management seem just fine with this state of affairs, saying picking a license is too hard for ordinary developers. But if you're not going to give anyone permission to use your code, why post it on GitHub in the first place?"

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Because (5, Interesting)

OverlordQ (264228) | about a year ago | (#42155175)

Because it's a free place to store a git repo as a backup.

Re:Because (4, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | about a year ago | (#42155231)

And it's probably one of the first places that comes to mind, shows up on a cursory search, or is suggested by someone in passing. Given that the site maintainers are fine with the state of things, the issue would seem to lie with the assumption that all code there is OSS licensed, rather than its use as a catch-all repository.

Re:Because (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#42156191)

Honestly, if they are making it available, I think they should put a warning up for people, that by downloading and compiling the code you could be in violation of the law, or require everything free for non commercial use.

It's not an unreasonable assumption that something available for download is less than fully encumbered.

Re:Because (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155233)

this. i've only used github for my personal projects. not everyone cares about contributing to open source projects, or making their code available to others. and there's nothing wrong with that. not everyone should be expected to share their work.

shocking and unbelievable, i know, but it's true.

Re:Because (2)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about a year ago | (#42155465)

One semester I used it for my homework. Lots of .tex and .m files. I could do a problem, commit. Push go to a completely separate computer, pull and continue working.

Re:Because (5, Funny)

rbprbp (2731083) | about a year ago | (#42155775)

This has been my approach to homework (which is mostly .tex and .py). For all I care, I don't mind if someone forks my homework or does anything with it. Though I wouldn't mind them merging their changes back :)

Re:Because (0)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#42155917)

not everyone should be expected to share their work.

Nor should Github be expected to host such repositories for free.

Re:Because (2, Insightful)

Mike_EE_U_of_I (1493783) | about a year ago | (#42156005)

not everyone should be expected to share their work.

Nor should Github be expected to host such repositories for free.

That's true. However, if Github can afford to provide the service for free and chooses to do so, I see no harm in it.

Bitbucket (3, Informative)

akeeneye (1788292) | about a year ago | (#42155259)

As is Bitbucket (bitbucket.org), with the added bonus that the private repos that you create there are free too.

Re:Bitbucket (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#42155281)

The $7/month I pay to GitHub to keep a few private repositories doesn't seem a massive gouge at all.
GitHub is a great site. Gotta hit their tip jar.

Re:Bitbucket (0)

obarel (670863) | about a year ago | (#42155927)

You could pay $6 a month at http://repositoryhosting.com/ [repositoryhosting.com] .

Re:Bitbucket (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155427)

For github, I'm pretty sure, people don't exactly understand how those licenses work, so they pick one they see others use.

With bitbucket, I have a few projects that are private, and occasionally invite others to see something in particular, removing privileges later on, nothing more; other things though, are free for all, the right kind of free.

Re:Bitbucket (2)

jez9999 (618189) | about a year ago | (#42155609)

And you can attach files to your issues in the issue tracker (amazingly you can't on Github).

Re:Bitbucket (0, Troll)

debrain (29228) | about a year ago | (#42156087)

If the rumours are true [pocoo.org] , BitBucket was a blatant screen-for-screen imitation of GitHub's design:

I understand that imitation is flattering to some point and copying one or two things is cool, but BitBucket copied our website screen for screen in nearly every major aspect without asking for permission or acknowledging the theft.

If the owners of Bitbucket have no qualms about stealing GitHub's creation ... should you really trust them with yours?

I thought it was worth $7 per month to go with GitHub for this reason.

YMMV.

StackOverflow is even worse! (3, Informative)

zidium (2550286) | about a year ago | (#42155583)

Every question, answer, and comment on the StackExchange websites (StackOverflow, ServerFault, et. al.) is automatically licensed on something very akin to the GPL (the Creative Commons Share Alike License); if you use code from those sites, your entire application's source will legally have to be released.

Just because no one is talking about that doesn't mean it isn't legit. Check it out: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/25956/what-is-up-with-the-source-code-license-on-stack-overflow [stackoverflow.com]

Re:StackOverflow is even worse! (1)

Endophage (1685212) | about a year ago | (#42155935)

I would suggest that most of the code on stackoverflow, while answering a question to which the answer probably wasn't easy to find, is often so trivial as to make any license terms realistically unenforceable. Not that it doesn't have that license, but good luck trying to enforce it.

Case in point, anything in this search: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/css [stackoverflow.com]

Re:StackOverflow is even worse! (3, Interesting)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about a year ago | (#42156041)

In order to have copyright you must first create a work. Most of the code examples that people post on those sites are so short and trivial that I doubt that very many of them (as published in isolation) would qualify as works in most jurisdictions. Even if you have a code example that is complex enough to qualify as a work you could still probably copy-paste a few lines from that work without breaching the copyright, especially if those lines are trivial or obvious or constitute best practice in the language.

Re:Because (1)

Endophage (1685212) | about a year ago | (#42155883)

Bitbucket does the same thing but gives you unlimited private repos. Why not use that if you don't want your code shared. That's what I do...

Personal use allowed ? Can share via github ref ? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#42155909)

Since the original author is essentially publishing the code it would seem that an individual downloader would have the right to use the code on a personal basis. This individual would merely not be allowed to redistribute or otherwise share the code.

Of course if the individual wants to share the work with someone else they merely have to refer that person to the original author's github repository.

So if someone creates a useful a utility program, decides to license it in a non-FOSS manner, the author can still share it with any interested parties. If so that seems a pretty legit role for github.

That (3, Interesting)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | about a year ago | (#42155197)

Is only a problem in places where computer algorithms can be patented. and beside, anyone just grabbing code and pasting direct onto a product without audit or modification is asking for a nice backdoor.

Re:That (1)

dshk (838175) | about a year ago | (#42155247)

In the EU computer algorithms cannot be patented (or at least such patents cannot be enforced), but copyright law applies, and I guess copyright law exists in almost all countries of the word.

Re:That (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155637)

Nope. Germany has "Urheberrecht", which is vastly different from copyright. (Which many people even here seem to be ignorant about.) And many countries copied German law. Which is waaaayy more sane than "copyright'.

For one, it's an author's right. Not a publisher's right. The fundamental difference in philosophy that that entails, should be obvious.
And you can never ever sell your rights away. Ever. You can act as if, but you can always go "Fuck you, cooww and shee-keeenn! Now you can't use it anymore!" if they are stupid enough to fall for it.
And so you do not need to write *anything* below your works. No "Copyright 2012 Anonymous Coward" needed. In fact, would I be posting with my name, then this very post here would be protected, without me having to mention that in any way. It is assumed on everything except completely trivial drivel.
That's just the most important points.

Of course the organized crime tries to adapt it more and more to "copyright" often acting as if it already were like that, and brainwashing people to fall for it. But they aren't yet there, and they only will over my cold dead body. (I'm with the Pirate Party Germany.)

Urheberrecht (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42155931)

For one, [the German counterpart to copyright is] an author's right. Not a publisher's right. The fundamental difference in philosophy that that entails, should be obvious.

The U.S. Constitution in theory espouses the same philosophy, as exclusive rights are secured "to authors and inventors".

And you can never ever sell your rights away. Ever.

How does Germany handle works made in the scope of employment?

You can act as if, but you can always go "Fuck you, cooww and shee-keeenn! Now you can't use it anymore!" if they are stupid enough to fall for it.

If an author signs a contract with another party granting an exclusive license to publish a given work, is that unenforceable?

And so you do not need to write *anything* below your works.

The U.S. hasn't required a notice since 1989 when the U.S implemented the Berne Convention, but it provides evidence that strengthens a copyright owner's case in court.

Re:That (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156025)

In the EU computer algorithms cannot be patented (or at least such patents cannot be enforced)

That is good for universities and every other theoretically inclinded. Sad fact is that german ( and other eu) curts have ruled that any combination of software and hardware can be patented and have enforced these patents. Companies just use hardware limitations like finite memory (not low or restricted, just finite like 50 petabyte finite) to get a valid hardware/software patent, something like "this algorithm is designed to run on a machine with limited resources and is therefore part of a patented machine". Some years ago there was a lawsuit between camera manufacturers and microsoft over the patented FAT filesystem, gues who won. Hint: the patent contains a section on dealing with long directory names in limited memory.

As a german I want to point out that european juges are just as crazy as everywhere else. Whe had people send to prison for crimes that did not happen and a whole system refusing to entertain the notion that it could be wrong (families send to prison for murder with no evidence, even after the "victim" was found drowned with his car, a man stuck in the psychatry for paranoia even after it became public that his accusations where actually true, etc.). There are only juges and lawyers in this system, you can be happy if you find even a shred of justice anywhere close to the former two.

Conflating copyright and patent again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155257)

You're as bad as the MAFIAA conflating piracy and theft.

Re:Conflating copyright and patent again... (3, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#42155297)

conflating piracy and theft

Who does that? Piracy requires an ocean, ships, and lots of brutal, hand-to-hand combat effort.
Modern theft has been reduced to legislation.

Re:That (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155353)

I'm tempted to start coding a generalized login framework on github, one which silently reports home and has a nice sweet backdoor, just to see how well it would be received.

Re:That (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155591)

Too late. Microsoft already did it way back in Windows XP. Still, enjoy it for the coding exercise at the least.

Re:That (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#42155717)

Patents have jack and shit to do with copyrights which is the issue.

Not a new problem (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#42155209)

This certainly isn't a new problem. If you work for a corporation, you aren't going to use code without a clear license. At least, I hope you aren't. If you need clarification about a license, you can often just contact the author. Just because the website is called "Github" doesn't mean you should treat the code any differently than code you find laying around anywhere else.

So if you have a lawyer (1)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#42155815)

You won't be able to use this competitive advantage if your company has lawyers on staff. A small startup will use the advantage because they don't have a lawyer who can forget to explain estoppel to them.

Re:So if you have a lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156245)

It's a known fact that companies do misappropriate GPLed software. But I've talked with several companies who are moving or have already moved their repositories to Github and because private repositories aren't free, they're open-sourcing whatever code they can safely share. One of them was very succesful with the move and is seeing active adoption, much to the excitement of their shareholders as it gives them the impression of unpaid developers.

Unsafe? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155255)

Code having a license term, you use it under that license. Whats the problem. So you can't cut an paste it. Good. But as a example of an implementation its still very useful/educational.

The license chosen isup to the author, get over it. This militant 'I want it all for free and without me having to do anything' is your problem, not the authors.

Re:Unsafe? (5, Informative)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | about a year ago | (#42155529)

"But as a example of an implementation its still very useful/educational."

And opens you up to the possibility of being accused of creating a derivative work, which violates "All Rights Reserved".

Re:Unsafe? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155939)

Nonsense, derivative works are fair use.

"All rights reserved" doesn't mean what you think (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155261)

"All rights reserved" doesn't mean that you aren't going to give permission to use your code. It just means that you haven't done so yet, or you haven't made up your mind.

It is silly to use such code, even if accompanied by a license, because the right to use it can be revoked if it is reserved.

I've found modules I wanted to use on github and gone through the exercise of tracking down the authors and talking them into putting their code under some sort of license (hopefully one that's compatible with what I need, but of course it's up to them). It's surprising how many people don't understand of copyright law and licensing.

wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155267)

Apparently checking the license on code before you copy and paste it into your own project is also too difficult.

Re:wtf (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#42155879)

...especially when there is nothing in the code to indicate what the license is.

It's like a hotel mini-bar but with no indication or understanding that you actually have to pay for the overpriced booze and peanuts. This hotel is in a hippie commune where the usual rules don't apply. So it's not obvious that crass rules apply.

So you don't make the usual default assumption that everything has dire restrictions by default, that everything has a price, and that they will try to charge you for those booze and peanuts later.

So what ? (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#42155273)

To "old" hands like me, GitHub is one of the last places reminiscent of the great liberties we had up to the end of the '90s. So what do we care ? Take code from GitHub, copy/paste, re-implement ideas you find there, possibly implemented badly.... C'mon, who gives a damn about copyright on GitHub ????

Re:So what ? (2)

preaction (1526109) | about a year ago | (#42156127)

Lawyers. The EFF. The FSF. Anyone who makes a living on copyright.

Why? (5, Insightful)

gcnaddict (841664) | about a year ago | (#42155283)

But if you're not going to give anyone permission to use your code, why post it on GitHub in the first place?"

Lets say I stumble across a fantastic utility, and the source is open for me to view. I'll dive through the code and make sure I'm comfortable with its functionality (i.e. it's not doing anything I don't want it to do) before grabbing the tool.

I'm not using the code for my own projects. I'm just vetting the code. Plenty of developers throw code for small utilities up for exactly this reason, and the vast majority of the world is totally cool with it.

Re:Why? (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about a year ago | (#42155309)

So basically it's for the original coders to show off their awesome coding skills

Re:Why? (1)

gcnaddict (841664) | about a year ago | (#42155593)

...no, it's for the original coder(s) to build trust among the people using the programs.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155709)

As wonderful as this sounds, you cannot expect to vet any code base without an investment of time on the order of that which was required to write the code. (The old adage is appropriate here "Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place." Vetting code is probably harder than debugging; see the IOCC [ioccc.org] ). When code is open source, a community will grow surrounding it. Many eyes read the code with the intention of building, improving, and actually debugging it. This has the side-effect of also vetting the code; it's not wasted effort if the program is free (as in freedom). The community can be trusted (to an extent) to validate the code (granted, this is a bit idealistic). With non-free code, you cannot expect this top happen on its own, and it is not cost-effective to do this vetting yourself. It's kind of pointless.

Why post it on GitHub? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#42155301)

C'mon, it ain't that hard.

1. Post it on Github
2. Make everyone think it's free to use.
3. Sue everyone you can get your hands on who do.
4. Profit

Re:Why post it on GitHub? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155359)

GitHub, the new invasive malware.

Re:Why post it on GitHub? (2)

Vasheron (1750022) | about a year ago | (#42155367)

C'mon, it ain't that hard.

1. Post it on Github
2. Make everyone think it's free to use.
3. Sue everyone you can get your hands on who do.
4. Profit

You forgot the ???

Re:Why post it on GitHub? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155891)

Agreed. The question marks are the most critical part of the business plan.

Re:Why post it on GitHub? (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42155397)

2. Make everyone think it's free to use.

3. Sue everyone you can get your hands on who do.

4. Get annoyed that a court finds the existence of an implied licence, or, in some nuanced cases, that the action is prevented under the principle of non-derogation from grant. Assuming the defendant can afford to argue.

Re:Why post it on GitHub? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#42155429)

4. Get annoyed that a court finds the existence of an implied licence, or, in some nuanced cases, that the action is prevented under the principle of non-derogation from grant. Assuming the defendant can afford to argue

Please. Come back to reality.

When in the recent past have you seen a court rule on copyright with common sense?

Seriously, put down the bong.

Re:Why post it on GitHub? (3, Informative)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42155495)

When in the recent past have you seen a court rule on copyright with common sense?

I'm not sure that Usedsoft [europa.eu] applied common sense, but rather some convoluted reasoning, but the outcome seems sensible enough. Picking on rulings relevant here, I think the US court's decision in Wallace v. IBM [uscourts.gov] was common sense, as was the finding of the German court in Welte v. Skype [gnumonks.org] .

Perhaps look also at Griggs v. Evans [bailii.org] — a pragmatic decision on the facts, to my mind.

Sure, there are some odd judgments, but there are some sensible, practical judges out there too.

Re:Why post it on GitHub? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#42155551)

Interesting links. Thanks... F.P.

Re:Why post it on GitHub? (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42155605)

Interesting links. Thanks.

My pleasure. If you do read the Usedsoft decision, there's a good chance you'll find it pretty impenetrable, unless you are familiar with the computer programs directive — I prepared some slides [neilzone.co.uk] for a friend's talk on Usedsoft a couple of weeks back, which you might find helpful alongside the decision. (Listed as (c) to me (ironic, given the thread here) but, as far as I'm concerned, treat as CC0 [creativecommons.org] .)

Re:Why post it on GitHub? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155731)

... and snort some cocaine... the drug of choice of the Content Mafia.

Doesn't The User Bare Resposibility? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155303)

Doesn't the user(consuming developer) of the code bare responsibility for proper use and honoring of the license? I know it's mildly inconvenient to you, but researching ownership and licensing is one of the costs of using "free" code. If that cost is too high for you, don't use that code.

I really fail to see how this is a problem of any kind with GitHub. It's not even a problem for the poster of the code. It is up to the user of the code to verify license compliance.

Daily reminder (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155307)

Daily reminder that "open source" doesn't necessarily automatically equal "free" (beer or freedom).

I'm OK with this.

Re:Daily reminder (2)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year ago | (#42155439)

That depends on the definition of "open source" you use. If it's the one by the Open Source Initiative, it certainly does mean you can use and distribute the code.

Re:Daily reminder (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#42156085)

Not unconditionally true.
Open source licenses exists to prevent certain types of distribution (otherwise, just use public domain).
For instance, some licenses will not allow you to change code and distribute it under the original name.
Most open source licenses prevent you from removing the copyright notice from code you distribute.
Many prevent you from removing author attribution from code distributions.

Reading code can be useful on its own (2, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#42155311)

The author seems to confuse open source with copyleft. Open source is not a legal thing. And a ban on redistribution of derivative works doesn't mean that it's useless. Knowing the source code of a piece of software is important if you want to use it for any security-sensitive work or if you want to implement some modifications of your own (which you don't intend to distribute). It's not unheard of even that a developer company only gives the source code to their paying costumers.

Re:Reading code can be useful on its own (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year ago | (#42155483)

Open Source, as defined by the Open Source Initiative, is most definitively a legal thing.

a ban on redistribution of derivative works doesn't mean that it's useless. Knowing the source code of a piece of software is important if you want to use it for any security-sensitive work or if you want to implement some modifications of your own (which you don't intend to distribute). It's not unheard of even that a developer company only gives the source code to their paying costumers.

This is why the author says it's dangerous.

Unlicensed code ("All rights reserved") is not a ban on redistribution. It's a ban on any copying, including forking the code to your machine. You most definitively can't modify the code, even if you don't intend to distribute it.

Re:Reading code can be useful on its own (2)

micheas (231635) | about a year ago | (#42155711)

... or if you want to implement some modifications of your own (which you don't intend to distribute)

IANAL, but I have been led to believe that code that is all rights reserved cannot be modified without consent of the author, unless it falls under the fair use exemption of copyright.

The fact that your modifications could reduce the profitability of the copyright owners derivative works lead me to suspect that the courts would generally find that your changes are a copyright violation, even if they are not distributed.

Copyright law is all about money and lost sales.

My advice, get permission from the copyright holder, it is much cheaper and less confusing than attorneys.

Sensationalist article stating the obvious (4, Insightful)

caseih (160668) | about a year ago | (#42155319)

Whether you are working on proprietary code or open source code, you can't just paste code from the net into your project without a license, regardless of whether it's GPL, BSD, or some royalty-free use grant. Unless the code has an explicit license, or states explicitly that it is in the public domain, you simply cannot use it without express permission from the copyright holder, because no law grants you that right. Plain and simple. So if code in a git repo is "all rights reserved," the you can look, and even download it, but you cannot put it into your own code. So I don't see what the problem is here. License always matters, whether you're a FLOSS person or developing commercial software.

So of course half of all git repos are unsafe to use. Why does this warrant some big sensationalist article? Kind of along the lines of articles claiming the GPL is a threat to proprietary software companies because it will "infect" them somehow magically. Folks, a little bit of understanding of copyright law will go a long ways I think. Open source, even copyleft, depends on copyright to keep it as such. We should all have a basic understanding of it.

Re:Sensationalist article stating the obvious (1)

marcansoft (727665) | about a year ago | (#42155385)

You can take any code which you find and put it into your project, or even combine bits of code with incompatible licenses. What you can't do is distribute the result. Distribution is where copyright law kicks in.

Re:Sensationalist article stating the obvious (2)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42155503)

You can take any code which you find and put it into your project, or even combine bits of code with incompatible licenses.

Distribution might be where GNU GPL 2.0 kicks in, but copyright certainly kicks in to prevent you from just taking code and putting it into your own project, at least in Europe — the restriction on "copying," for example. (You might have a defence of fair use in the US, but that's an affirmative defense, not an absence of copyright.)

Whether anyone would find out, or consider it worth suing for, is perhaps another matter, but copyright is not just limited to distribution.

Re:Sensationalist article stating the obvious (2)

marcansoft (727665) | about a year ago | (#42155659)

It is true that the law grants the copyright owner the right to restrict the creation of copies, but It can be reasonably argued that by posting the code on GitHub you've implicitly given consent to the mere creation of a copy (as would automatically happen if you view the code or download it). For most practical purposes, the limitation on distribution is what matters.

Re:Sensationalist article stating the obvious (2)

micheas (231635) | about a year ago | (#42155765)

Distribution is where copyright law kicks in.

Like when you distribute the program from your drive to your RAM?

Now if the program is all rights reserved, and your modified version that you distribute mocks the original author, you could claim the parody exception for copyright. (Would you be successful? I don't know about that question, ask an attorney.)

Re:Sensationalist article stating the obvious (1)

gajop (1285284) | about a year ago | (#42155479)

Mod this up
Whenever I work on a personal project I leave the licence for the last part, when I actually plan to release it to the wild.
In fact 2/7~ of my github repos lack a licence and may never get it.

I would be surprised if I was the only one that works like this.

Re:Sensationalist article stating the obvious (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42155485)

The repos on github aren't all-rights-reserved. By hosting your code on github, you agree to allow people to fork your code.

Re:Sensationalist article stating the obvious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155933)

By hosting your code on github, you agree to allow people to fork your code.

No, you allow people to view and fork your repository.

However, by setting your pages to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view your Content. By setting your repositories to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view and fork your repositories.

There is a difference between the two. Also putting something on Github does not disallow an "all-rights-reserved"-style licensing or any proprietary license you want since they even admit:

We claim no intellectual property rights over the material you provide to the Service. Your profile and materials uploaded remain yours.

So basically, you are wrong on all counts.

Re:Sensationalist article stating the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155565)

Yes you can. Who exactly is gonna stop you? Will you go and put TCPA chips in everyone's systems and heads? Good luck with that.

Stop spreading the lie of imaginary property. And stop confusing plagiarism with it! You are just as bad (and mentally deluded) as the ACTA monsters.

Plagiarism makes you an ass, and will quickly lose you all respect, but it's not a crime. Not even remotely.

Deliberately creating an artificial scarcity on the other hand, IS a crime. ("Copyright" doubly so, because it's designed for the distributor to profit from artificial scarcity, while the original author gets the middle finger.)

Gitorious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155351)

Gitorious [gitorious.org] is both free software (AGPL) and a hosted git service. Creating a project, you get to pick between 22 licences, proprietary or none. I haven't checked their stats to see what percentage of projects it hosts are open source or not.

Re:Gitorious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156065)

After scanning a few gitorious projects, here are some licensing stats:

          11 License: Public Domain
          13 License: Other Open Source Initiative Approved License
          17 License: Other/Multiple
          20 License: Academic Free License v3.0
          25 License: GNU Affero General Public License (AGPLv3)
          25 License: Other/Proprietary License
          29 License: GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL)
          34 License: BSD License
          71 License: None
          93 License: GNU General Public License version 2(GPLv2)
        145 License: GNU General Public License version 3 (GPLv3)
        247 License: MIT License

The Bigger Pisser... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155357)

Is finding your stuff on github when you didn't put it there yourself.

Missing the problem here (4, Insightful)

dugjohnson (920519) | about a year ago | (#42155365)

Github is a great place to store your repository. It is ALSO a great place to share code with people you want to work with who may or may not be really conversant with git.
Github doesn't claim to provide a repository for open source software...just a place to store repositories which you (as an author) may or may not choose to attach a license to. But that doesn't remove the responsibility of the copier to determine what the license on that software may be. If I copy anything, I need to know if I have the right (copy right) to do that. The onus is and always has been on the copier. That said, the copyright owner is the one who will follow up with violations.
Just because I choose to use github to store my repositories (and, in my case, I use and pay for private repositories for those things that I don't want to share) does not mean that I want everyone in the world to download and use my stuff. I'm an idiot if I am surprised when people DO use my stuff that I make publicly available, but without an explicit license allowing use of my code, it is protected in the US by copyright laws as soon as I write it...and IANAL.
Github is just a great service for those of us who don't want to set up our own repository. They are not a guarantor of free software, nor a nanny to protect me.

Re:Missing the problem here (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42155421)

Github doesn't claim to provide a repository for open source software

Agreed, although it does claim to be a platform for "social coding," and that it is [github.com] "the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers," having been founded "to simplify sharing code."

I am not reading the article as anything more than "if GitHub wants to promote sharing of code, make it easier for a developer to specify licensing terms" — and that seems imminently sensible to me.

Re:Missing the problem here (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42155547)

Just because I choose to use github to store my repositories (and, in my case, I use and pay for private repositories for those things that I don't want to share) does not mean that I want everyone in the world to download and use my stuff.

Just so you know, in the terms-and-services you clicked on when you signed up for github, you actually gave permission to everyone in the world to download, view, and fork your stuff. So if that's not what you want, you might reconsider your use of github (Note: this only applies to the free public repositories).

Re:Missing the problem here (1)

dugjohnson (920519) | about a year ago | (#42155655)

Agreed and I understood that (which is why I have some private repositories). It's the fork part that is "interesting" from a copyright standpoint. What does that really mean, legally (I know what it means technically)? I guess that's why the lawyers continue to do what they do.

Re:Missing the problem here (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42156013)

What does that really mean, legally (I know what it means technically)?

From a legal standpoint, of course it's a horribly unclear terms-of-service, so you are right when you say, "I guess that's why the lawyers continue to do what they do." However, I think the implicit meaning could be reasonably interpreted to mean, "if you put things here, you intend to share them."

In general it's easier to pursue a copyright claim if you've made an active attempt to assert it, for example, submitting your work to the Library of Congress. So if you haven't specified a license, or made any other attempt to keep people from using your stuff, and actively indicated that you'd like to share it, it's unlikely courts will have much sympathy for your claim.

Note: I am not a lawyer, but feel free to pay me like one.

Original author loses nothing by forking ? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#42155823)

Just so you know, in the terms-and-services you clicked on when you signed up for github, you actually gave permission to everyone in the world to download, view, and fork your stuff.

True. However the original copyright remains intact. Maybe you could add your copyright to code that you add. The original author doesn't seem to lose anything by forking. Well other than individuals may download and privately use, but not redistribute, the forked version rather than the original version.

Re:Original author loses nothing by forking ? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42155897)

Well other than individuals may download and privately use, but not redistribute, the forked version rather than the original version.

It is unlikely that any court will interpret the terms of service to mean that you can fork it, but not allow others to fork a forked version. It's unlikely that any court would stop redistribution.

You can try filing a lawsuit, and good luck to you. I'd like to see that one play out in court.

Re:Original author loses nothing by forking ? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#42155967)

Well other than individuals may download and privately use, but not redistribute, the forked version rather than the original version.

It is unlikely that any court will interpret the terms of service to mean that you can fork it, but not allow others to fork a forked version. It's unlikely that any court would stop redistribution.

Who said anything about not allowing the fork to be forked? By redistribution I mean something *other* than the source being available on github as part of the original author's hierarchy. Such *other* methods of distribution remain subject to the authors' wishes.

Re:Original author loses nothing by forking ? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42156023)

Yes, but if you don't specify that your wishes are contrary, you will have trouble winning a court case based on non-specified wishes.

Simon says "GitHub, reminded developers to specify (0)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42155373)

your chosen licence"

He's not saying that the lack of licence information is GitHub's problem, nor that it's unique to GitHub. Rather, he's saying that there is a problem — code without clearly attributed licence information — and, whilst each would-be user could contact each developer and find out the licensing conditions, GitHub could make a simple tweak to their platform to encourage developers to select a licence.

I would not favour pre-selecting a default licence, but rather having a developer presented with a set out option, perhaps with a tool to help aid selection based on requirements [ccil.org] . No requirement, no default licence, but just a helpful reminder — if someone wants their code to be reused, but didn't know to think through the legal aspects, this would help them out, without harm to anyone who would rather not specify a licence for whatever reason.

Sounds sensible to me.

You seem to be forgetting one simple thing.. (1)

squirrelthetire (2716659) | about a year ago | (#42155411)

Github is the photobucket of source code. Licensing code would be another step that people generally don't want to bother with. If someone cares enough about licensing for some particular code, they can contact the author(s) easily enough. Frankly, worrying about licensing every piece of code you write is just a time-suck. It's necessary in some situations, but not

roughly half the projects on GitHub

I don't see the story. (2)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year ago | (#42155431)

GitHub allows creators to determine what license to publish under. The license is disclosed to downloaders. Some of it is under an open license. Some of it isn't.

"Is this code using a license compatible to my project?" is a pretty normal thing to ask before dropping something into your work.

Personally, I like having access to look at source on closed projects - projects I wouldn't otherwise have access to. You can learn stuff even if you don't copy/paste working code.

Re:I don't see the story. (1)

Volastic (2781511) | about a year ago | (#42155633)

An article looking to be one, with little chance.

Next on slashdot... (2)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year ago | (#42155457)

Half of Coffee Shop Unsafe to Drink (If You Want Decaf)

What a bunch of wannabes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155473)

Open "SORES" people are since they're obviously reaming the code of others. That's not programming. It's the province of noobs, nothing more. Makes sense since most of what I've encountered here has been young wannabes calling themselves programmers here but in reality are nothing more than cut and paste users of the code others wrote, and what I call "web-wallys" (HTML work is text formatting plus placing pictures - not coding. Javascript, Python, CSS, and the like? Wuss tools that do hand-holding for the noobs that use them, and especially when the code it stolen from others!).

Terms of github (5, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42155475)

From the terms of service from github [github.com] :

We claim no intellectual property rights over the material you provide to the Service. Your profile and materials uploaded remain yours. However, by setting your pages to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view your Content. By setting your repositories to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view and fork your repositories.

If you use source code found on github, it's going to be hard for the author to win a copyright lawsuit. This is a non-issue. They've basically allowed you to fork the code (with the implication that you're going to modify it). I don't see them in any way being able to recover punitive or even statutory damages.

The real danger with github, as with all open source, is ensuring that the project's owner hasn't stolen proprietary code from somewhere else. Imagine if Linus had grabbed some files from Unix, then IBM would have been in a lot more difficulty during the SCO case. Fortunately the only things Linus copied were semicolons and braces.

But if you use someone's code through an open source project, you can be liable, even if you got the code under the GPL or BSD license, because the project's owner didn't have the right to give you that code.

Re:Terms of github (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#42155525)

Yep. Good points.

It sounds like the original poster comes from that school of thought that expects every hosting service or ISP to defend property rights on behalf of the owners. That's not GitHub or Megaupload's job. The world would be different if the RIAA had sued Postel and Reynolds for writing RFC 959 (FTP) for not incorporating DRM.

Forking doesn't remove copyright (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#42155751)

We claim no intellectual property rights over the material you provide to the Service. Your profile and materials uploaded remain yours. However, by setting your pages to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view your Content. By setting your repositories to be viewed publicly, you agree to allow others to view and fork your repositories.

If you use source code found on github, it's going to be hard for the author to win a copyright lawsuit. This is a non-issue. They've basically allowed you to fork the code (with the implication that you're going to modify it). I don't see them in any way being able to recover punitive or even statutory damages.

Forking doesn't remove copyright. All that seems to have been accomplished by forking is adding someone else's possibly copyrighted work to the original author's copyrighted work.

Re:Terms of github (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#42156039)

If you use source code found on github, it's going to be hard for the author to win a copyright lawsuit. This is a non-issue. They've basically allowed you to fork the code (with the implication that you're going to modify it). I don't see them in any way being able to recover punitive or even statutory damages.

So under what license do you have the code, if it doesn't have one? Are you're going to claim that this CYA sentence in the terms of service that GitHub have put there to avoid being sued for handing out "unlicensed" copies to people is the same as the author putting the code in the public domain? I think you'd get laughed out of court with that defense. For sure it protects GitHub distributing the code, it probably protects you cloning the repository but you for sure hasn't been granted any "exclusive rights" like modification, distribution or even compiling it - since the binary is clearly a derived work of the source code. To use a car analogy, it's like you let a stranger use your parking space. It's now on your property, but it's still their car and without any further permission you can do roughly nothing with it.

Re:Terms of github (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42156175)

You've got it backwards. If you sue me for copyright infringement, you need to prove that I infringed, I don't need to prove that I didn't. So good luck proving that by forking and redistributing the code that you put on github, I've made unjust profits or caused you losses.

Too hard? WTF? Unless they are mentally disabled? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155501)

As a developer I say:
When kids in Ethiopia, who can neither read nor write, and have never seen a computer in their life, can find boxes of Android tablets, and within two weeks not only open them, turn them on, go online, download and play games, watch videos, and send each other messages, but even mod the OS, then you can pick a fuckin' license, dumbass!

Also, PROTIP: GPL. DONE. (Or BSD, if you're the masochist type.)

My personal choice: The NoLicense "license":
Nobody has any right to do anything at all with my work. (Unless that somebody doesn't believe in the lie of imaginary property and the crime called "copyright". In which case he will be aware that the license is meaningless and physically impossible to enforce, and hence and can be ignored, but that he can also never ever go and act like he could "own", "sell" or"rent" information himself or that it could be "stolen".)

That way only those who don't support organized crime will use it, those who do will suffer from the harm they do (to) themselves, and in any case, nobody can fuck with me.

People misunderstanding the point of Github? (3, Informative)

flimflammer (956759) | about a year ago | (#42155527)

I think so!

The public repository option for uploading makes no mention that you need to supply the code with a copyleft/copyright free license, just that the code is publicly listed and browsable. Why are people assuming that everyone is supposed to?

Are people confusing open source (publicly browsable source) from Open Source (the movement)?

Not only a problem with Github (3, Interesting)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | about a year ago | (#42155559)

Lots of so called open source projects either don't provide a license or provide conflicting license information. For example, we recently looked at a project where the web site says it's MIT, but the code says it's public domain.

I Have A Number of GitHub Projects... (1)

ios and web coder (2552484) | about a year ago | (#42155785)

...and they are all GLP2. Thieves are gonna steal, no matter what, so my code out there is free for the taking. I use GPL, only because a couple of other FOSS repositories require it. I'd much rather use the "Take Me, You Gypsy Stallion" license, in which the code is 100% open and free for all. I don't like GPL, because it's a coercive license; every bit as shackled and enslaved as the code the FOSS folks like to dis. However, it doesn't hurt to use it, in my context.

If I don't want people to have my code, then I have a Perforce server that I run in my local network. I have a lot of stuff there, as well.

GitHub FUD © (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | about a year ago | (#42155821)

"promiscuous sharing w/out a license leads to software transmitted diseases".

Well, before you use the software, checkout the license ...

Email the developer (1)

yesterdaystomorrow (1766850) | about a year ago | (#42155937)

A lot of stuff on github is experimental, "quick and dirty" code. The amount of effort to, say, put GPL boilerplate in every file isn't large, but it isn't zero, either. So, *ask*. You send mail to me, volunteer to do this small job, I'll probably give you commit access to the repo.

Not that I care anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42155947)

Honestly Copyright is so broken it's disgusting, so screw everyone, I'm using it all and passing it off as my own. Good luck decompiling my stuff and finding your code in there.

Copyright when it comes to code is complete BS. I dont recognize any of it, but I give credit when you offer it up for free, I'll violently steal it when you act like a jerk and say "all rights reserved"

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