Say you created a website and it's open-source under MIT.

A month later, I changed it to GPL-3.0 License.

A month passed again, someone forked my project in GitHub and is making money off it via donations (buymeacoffee). He removed the license in his forked repo's README and just added a section where he credited my repo.

The website I made also uses libraries under the MIT license.

Also, a local news site featured him, where he claims "he started to build the website out of boredom and took him three weeks to build" without mention of the original author.

What would be an ethical solution?

  • 1
    I am not a lawyer. The OP has benefited from your work without fairly recognizing you. Do you want to develop software or spend your time chasing bad actors? Given that you posted your code under the MIT license previously, there is little that you can do legally (depends on the country). You could try to embarrass him but that often backfires. My advice, move on. Note: the local news site might be interested in interviewing you. Organize your facts, call the reporter and be strictly professional. However, not all publicity is good publicity in this area. Jun 13, 2021 at 5:12
  • Thank you @JohnHanley! I messaged him and just said that he should've kept the original license and that's it.
    – wobsoriano
    Jun 13, 2021 at 5:14
  • Is the code on GitHub (yours and the OP)? Jun 13, 2021 at 5:17
  • @JohnHanley The code is on GitHub. He forked it when it's already GPL-3.0 then removed the license in his fork.
    – wobsoriano
    Jun 13, 2021 at 5:20
  • 2
    If the OP's code is on GitHub, look into how to file a complaint. Stackexchange has a legal site that might be better for your question/problem. law.stackexchange.com Jun 13, 2021 at 5:35

1 Answer 1


He removed the license in his forked repo's README and just added a section where he credited my repo.

This is a violation of the copyright license under which he forked your repository. By violating the license, this person is also violating your copyrights.

As this person is violating your copyrights, you have the right to seek remedy for those violations. The ethical way to seek remedy is to first ask this person nicely to restore the license that was present at the time they forked the repository.

If they don't respond to your request (or refuse to restore the license), then you can escalate and make a formal complaint with GitHub.

With regard to the news coverage, there is nothing to gain there for you. The news organization is not responsible for the claims made by the person they interview. And from the little information you gave, the claims appear to not be of such a nature that you can compel them to retract or amend the story.

  • Under US law, to the extent that the media coverage was online, it may also be subject to section 230 immunity. Regardless of medium, US law is extremely favorable to the news organization under this fact pattern. However, if you contact them and politely inform them of the dispute, they may be willing to update their story.
    – Kevin
    Sep 5, 2021 at 21:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.