How does Github's "forking right" cope with an "All rights reserved" project?

I will start by offering the view that this question is off-topic. If code is sitting on github with no license, that means that it has no open source license. If there is no open source license, then we are simply discussing copyright law in general, not open source licensing in particular.

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    Questions about general copyright law are off-topic, but I'd argue that this question is about potential open sourcing through a TOS and therefore on-topic. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 21:44
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    @curiousdannii I'd argue your comment appears to be an answer to the question, and you should post it as one.
    – derobert
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 21:52
  • @derobert I'd argue you're right.
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 21:57
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    Related: meta.opensource.stackexchange.com/questions/14/… It's important to note: No clear consensus and solution was developed on that.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 5:29
  • This is feeling like a repeat of the above mentioned post, and the outcome is looking very similar: No clear cut answer on this.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 5:29
  • Maybe if you do get to some form of concensus, you could consider update the related help, which is, at minima, quite brief. Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 9:15
  • @bilbo_pingouin We're only a couple days of having gone public, and we're waiting for mods to come (I believe the mods can do that).
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 14:11

2 Answers 2


We've discussed general copyright questions before, and generally agreed that they're off-topic.

But that doesn't mean that every question must necessarily be about strictly FSF and OSI approved licensed projects. In fact it will often prove to be the questions which don't fit so easily into these boxes that are the most interesting, and for which this site will be most useful.

You can upload proprietary projects to Github, but the Terms of Service require you to allow other users a "right to fork". There's also the ability to clone etc. So questions about what the TOS means in terms of such a project's implied FLOSS status are a great fit for this site.

  • If the question had been worded: 'Do the github TOS amount to an open source license' I'd have liked it better.
    – bmargulies
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 16:24
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    @bmargulies That could be a good edit to suggest Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 20:44

This site is called "open source". We are talking about open source software. And… it would be off-topic?

There are many definitions of open source, and I agree that a software that allow you to look at the source but do nothing with that is a bit useless, but it's still open source nonetheless.

(this, and what @curiousdannii said – I take he'll post it as an answer)


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