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I wonder if publishing some code on github is considered a distribution.

According to this answer, it seems that it would be :

Yes, this is considered redistribution. If not what would?

Also, that answer states :

Redistribution happens whenever you make the work accessible to another party. It doesn't matter if that party is anyone who knows about your website or one specific person.

However, even if it makes perfect sense that a public repository shall be considered a form of distribution, isn't there a flaw here ?

I mean : Github has it's right to fork policy, so that would mean that any project on a public Github repository gives automatically full redistribution rights to anyone ? What if the license limits the redistribution (only allow distribution of modified software, or allow unmodified redistribution only another name) ? Then the simple action of forking the repository would be against the license, because it is not yet modified, or otherwise stated, the license would conflict with github ToS.

Would that also mean that any form of contribution through a fork-and-pull approch would be considered redistribution, and so that any contributor shall take care of fullfilling every distribution criteria of the license ?

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would mean that any project on a public Github repository gives automatically full redistribution rights to anyone ?

It means that anyone may copy the work verbatim to a new repository on the website GitHub.com. GitHub's ToS do not require uploaders to allow any other kinds of redistribution.

What if the license limits the redistribution (only allow distribution of modified software, or allow unmodified redistribution only another name) ? Then the simple action of forking the repository would be against the license, because it is not yet modified, or otherwise stated, the license would conflict with github ToS.

This seems basically correct. However, any license that allowed (otherwise) verbatim redistribution only under a new name would probably not be a FLOSS license. If Alice gives you work Foobar, you should be able to pass on Foobar to Bob without fiddling with its name first. A license that doesn't allow such verbatim redistribution isn't FLOSS and isn't particularly important to GitHub. But you are correct thst if such a (non-FLOSS) license does exist, it could not be used on GitHub, since the redistribution terms are incompatible with what the GitHub ToS requires.

If a license allows the distribution of modified forms only under a new name, that's not a problem: just make sure you change the name before you make any other changes.

Would that also mean that any form of contribution through a fork-and-pull approch would be considered redistribution, and so that any contributor shall take care of fullfilling every distribution criteria of the license ?

Yes, that seems basically correct. Pull requests create a modified work that is made available to others (at minimum, on the originating branch), so distribution occurs when another person accesses them.

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  • So can we also extand that a commit is also a distribution ? therefore the license has to be respected all the time, on all branch, even being a work in progress ? Also we can conclude that Github (at least public repo) is only suitable for FLOSS as the code is readable, and that the fork is both a copy and a redistribution, am I right ? – Raphael Mar 9 at 19:28
  • @Raphael, yes, you are right. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Mar 10 at 10:29

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