I have contributed heavily to a open-source github repository and they are licensed under the CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 license (Which isn't really an open-source license). Each of my contributions was merged via PR and each of those PR's had a piece of writing at the end of the PR template:

By making this pull request, I represent that I have the right to waive copyright and related rights to my contribution, and agree that all copyright and related rights in my contributions are waived, and I acknowledge that the [ORG] organization has the copyright to use and modify my contribution under the [REPO] License for perpetuity.

This is simply appended to the end of the PR template, and it's placed there automatically without any contributor interaction. In addition, I was never asked for a signature to sign a CLA or give the owner any form of documentation giving rights to them.

Is the act of the text simply being in the PR template mean that I automatically give up my rights to my contribution when it's merged? What rights do I have to my contributions in this case?

1 Answer 1


Making contributions to a project with a CC ND license is problematic in the first place.

When you make a contribution to a project, you are making a derived work, but that very thing is not allowed under the CC ND licenses. CC ND licenses effectively only allow further development of a project as long as it has only a single copyright holder, because the copyright holder is not bound by the license(s) they offer for their own work.

I am not sure that text in a pull request will hold up in court in all jurisdictions, but in those where it does you have indeed given up all your rights (or at least those you are legally able to give up) to your contribution. You would have the same rights as a random user has.

This is under the assumption that you can easily remove that text from a pull request when making one. Otherwise, it will probably be less acceptable as proof in court that you have knowingly and willingly given up your rights.

  • Yeah one of the main reasons for me even bringing this up is the terrible license of this repo. I've advised the owner to change it multiple times as he's using people's PR's from their Github forks and claiming rights to it via the license. He doesn't want to change it because he believe distributed derivatives will kill the project which IMO is not a great reason. Oct 14, 2020 at 22:12

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