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Re: [ESPResSo-devel] New GitHub Terms of Service

From: Ulf Schiller
Subject: Re: [ESPResSo-devel] New GitHub Terms of Service
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2017 18:09:18 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:45.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/45.7.0

I had a chance to discuss with our IP officer, and here's my current understanding.

Section D.4 of the GitHub terms state: "If you set your pages and repositories to be viewed publicly, you grant each User of GitHub a nonexclusive, worldwide license to access your Content through the GitHub Service, and to use, display and perform your Content, and to reproduce your Content solely on GitHub as permitted through GitHub's functionality. You may grant further rights if you adopt a license."

It is important to note that, e.g., the GPL does not simply grant rights, it grants rights under certain provisions. The above phrasing does not explicitly state that the rights granted each User of GitHub are subject to the terms of the license adopted, if so chosen, thus potentially creating a loophole for other users to strip off the adopted license. This is exactly what the Copyleft of, e.g., the GPL seeks to prevent (cf. Section 4 of the GPL). The problem here is that one effectively grants two licenses which may have incompatible provisions. Given that many people have contributed to ESPResSo under the terms of the GPL and may thus still own copyright for their contributions, it may be legally problematic to convey the whole or parts of ESPResSo under any other license (again, this is the intent of the GPL).

I am not saying that there are any sinister intentions on the part of GitHub nor that any rashly action is necessary (as neither did the article I linked, in fact). I am just pointing out that there is a loophole in the GitHub Terms of Use that one should be aware of. If my understanding is wrong, I'll be glad to be corrected.

Thank you,

On 03/03/2017 02:47 PM, Ulf Schiller wrote:
First of all, apologies for the "tracking cancer". I find it equally
annoying but it is unfortunately beyond my control.

Second, I have shared the link to create awareness of the potential
issue and initiate a discussion.

Third, I think most subscribers of this list will appreciate
substantiating evidence for the claims that the "article is completely
exaggerated" and that this case "is completely unrealistic". It may be
the case, I simply don't know. Unsubstantiated claims, however, are by a
vast majority of the scientific community considered bad practice.

Thank you,

On 03/03/2017 11:59 AM, Henri Menke wrote:
First of all the link without the tracking cancer:
Second, we don’t have a problem and this article is completely
exaggerated, especially because this would mean that approximately 90%
of all projects on GitHub would be taken down.

Third, if this is actually the case (which is completely unrealistic)
we just move to
On 03/03/2017 05:34 PM, Ulf Schiller wrote:
Stuttgart, we (may) have a problem...

Dr. Ulf D. Schiller
Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Faculty Scholar, School of Health Research
Clemson University
161 Sirrine Hall
Clemson, SC 29634

Office: 299c Sirrine Hall
Phone: 1-864-656-2669
Fax: 1-864-656-5973

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