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I feel there is an opportunity to improve the licensing portion in the git lesson by briefly mentioning perhaps in one sentence the value of asserting copyright, and the fact that a copyright statement is frequently included in the LICENSE file. I found it surprising that the page mentions copyright holders suing you, but doesn't mention the importance of explicit copyright assertion.
I am not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice, but perhaps some general statement about the value of explicit copyright and the opportunity to address that issue in the LICENSE file would improve the page.
The text was updated successfully, but these errors were encountered:
I believe that copyright is indeed automatic and implicit when a repository does not have a licence attached to it, as stated by @swaldman3. Looking at GitHub's own help pages one can read the following:
You're under no obligation to choose a license. However, without a license, the default copyright laws apply, meaning that you retain all rights to your source code and no one may reproduce, distribute, or create derivative works from your work.
Making your GitHub project public is not the same as licensing your project. (...) someone cannot legally use any part of your GitHub project in their code, even if it’s public, unless you explicitly give them the right to do so.
This is then in line with the notion mentioned above. I do agree that this could be more clearly stated in the lesson, though. Currently, the lessons states:
When a repository with source code, a manuscript or other creative works becomes public, it should include a file LICENSE or LICENSE.txt in the base directory of the repository that clearly states under which license the content is being made available. This is because creative works are automatically eligible for intellectual property (and thus copyright) protection. Reusing creative works without a license is dangerous, because the copyright holders could sue you for copyright infringement.
I think that adding some clarifying text specifically mentioning that repositories without explicit licences will automatically fall under the owners' copyright (disallowing use of the code without explicit permission) would be a good solution. One could also link to the previously mentioned sites as well, for further reading. I would be happy to make a PR if this sounds like a good idea.
A benefit of addressing licensing is that individuals new to version control/code sharing would be introduced to both the Software Carpentry community's position on open source and how the code base benefits from open source licensing. I think linking the mentioned sites and focusing the clarifying text on the SWC perspective would be useful for novices without adding too much complexity that could lead to questions outside the scope of the workshops.
Possible alternative text to When a repository with source code... could be:
As an open source project, Software Carpentry relies on volunteers to create our lessons and includes a file named LICENSE or LICENSE.txt file in all public lesson repositories. This file is used to specify that all materials are freely available under the Creative Commons Attribution license. Without a file that clearly states under which license any public source code, manuscript or other creative works is being made available, the default copyright laws apply. For the US this means that these material are protected and no one may reproduce, distribute, or create derivative works from your work. To learn more about licensing and open source, you can read more [about Github's description of licenses](links to github) and the [legal grounds for open source licensing](link to legal side of open source).