Some time ago, I wrote a blog mentioning that just because someone posted code on the web that didn't mean you were legally able to use it. The author of the code must explicitly give you permission (such as saying that the code is under the Apache license) before you are legally able to use the posted code.

Perhaps the worst offender for was GitHub – where people could easily post code with no license – leaving users in a legal no-man's-land with respect to whether the code could be used or not.

OpenNTF handled this failing by GitHub by insisting that each repository include a License file and a disclaimer stating that OpenNTF's Terms of Use apply.

However, in response to criticism in the open source world, GitHub is now changing. They have finally added a license selection box for new repositories. It doesn't appear to be compulsory to select a project, and it there doesn't appear to be any means of setting existing repositories to a particular license – but it is a start in the right direction.

What we will do at OpenNTF is to select that Apache 2.0 license when we create repositories – but continue to insist on including a license file so that any zip download clearly includes the source license.

There is a good article on this - GitHub finally takes open source licenses seriously.

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