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GitHub website says it is "free to use for public and open source projects". Do the projects need to be public and open source, or just public or open source?

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By "open source" I mean FOSS.

  • This question looks to be too broad. Please narrow it. – Rubén Mar 13 '17 at 21:55
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GitHub website says it is "free to use for public and open source projects". Do the projects need to be public and open source, or just public or open source?

I interpret "public" to mean that on GitHub you can create a public repository (a repository that is publicly readable) and upload content that you created (or other content that you have the right to upload according to that content's license). The content does not need to be source code. You can upload plain text files and other kinds of files, and people have used GitHub to do collaborative writing and collaborative editing of other things that are not source code (although GitHub is not always the best way to collaboratively edit those other things).

I interpret "open source" to mean source code that is publicly readable. So, in this interpretation, "public and open source projects" means publicly readable repositories that contain source code and/or other content.

Exactly what people are legally allowed to do with the source code and/or other content in your public repository on GitHub, besides read it or fork-and-read it, depends on how the source code and/or other content is licensed. It is possible to upload unlicensed content that you created, but Derek Jones argued in a blog post titled "The Truth About the Risks of Unlicensed Software" (8 February 2017) that uploading unlicensed source code is not a good idea. As Derek said, "The only rights granted to the public by putting code on GitHub are the rights to look at it and fork the repository to look at it in their own account. That grant comes from GitHub's Terms of Service, and still doesn't mean that anyone can actually do anything with the code." Derek recommended that you should choose a license for all content that you upload to GitHub. The Choose a License project, hosted on GitHub, makes it easy to choose a license for the most common situations.

  • So, a FOSS license is not required? The code just needs to be visible? – posfan12 Mar 14 '17 at 16:18
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    Correct. You can upload code to GitHub with no license. GitHub's No License page says: "If you find software that doesn't have a license, that generally means you have no permission from the creators of the software to use, modify, or share the software. Although a code host such as GitHub may allow you to view and fork the code, this does not imply that you are permitted to use, modify, or share the software for any purpose." – Big Mac Mar 14 '17 at 18:21
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Here's information about the github for non-profit organizations:

https://github.com/nonprofit

As per the site:

How can my organization get a discount?

  1. Create your free personal account.
  2. Create an organization with five users (you will be able to add more once we've confirmed your non-profit status).
  3. Contact us and include the following information:
    • Your nonprofit’s GitHub organization account name
    • Your nonprofit's GitHub organization URL
    • Proof of your nonprofit status with your local government (501(c)(3) status in the US)
    • The registered name of your nonprofit
    • A summary of what your nonprofit organization does
    • Confirmation that your organization is nongovernment, nonacademic, noncommercial, nonpolitical and has no religious affiliation
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GitHub website says it is "free to use for public and open source projects". Do the projects need to be public and open source, or just public or open source?

Yes, your projects have to be both. In fact, it's enforced the other way around: once you push code to a GitHub repository while using a free to use for public and open source projects account, your code will be made available to anyone on the web, and it will be published under an open source licence. There are a few options for you to choose (MIT, GPL, LGPL, etc), but all of them will be open-source.

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