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I've found a few open-source software projects and I'd like to run my own websites regarding them, but not claiming to own them; just make a place where information and such can be found. I believe I can do this and nobody can stop me for the following of reasons, among possibly others:

  1. It's open-source, so I can host my own builds of software that I compiled myself.

  2. The names of the projects are not registered, so I can use them at my own will and it's not illegal. Also, if the name is ambigious or vague, this just lends me even more leverage.

  3. I do not claim to own them, but just simply want my own site about them (i.e., "fan site," or maybe what is possibly known as a "mirror site" that may host builds but is not the "official" site, etc.).

  4. Not a penny is made off of any of the projects, so it's impossible for me to "steal money."

I just want a bigger community where I can feel I have power over the questions asked about the projects, but without me claiming to be/impersonate any normal developers; hence, I am correct.

However, I plan to host builds, re-use their designs (which are not trademarked or registered copyrights) and provide my own information and testing, environment, etc., about them.

Basically, it's a way of deluding myself into thinking I have power, but not claiming I own them.

For example, I get traffic to my sites about projects of others, and I can point them to download links to builds on the "official" site but let the visitors have a pretty, fancy UI and stuff that the main doesn't.

I also do not wish to ask the project maintainers if they'd be okay because then I'd feel powerless.

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    So in essence you want to make a fan site? As long as you're not breaking any trademark policies, and you make clear that it isn't the official site, that should be perfectly fine. You can even make money! – curiousdannii Aug 24 '15 at 1:11
  • Why would you want to do this? What's the purpose? This is sort of against the purpose of libre & open source software – Zizouz212 Aug 24 '15 at 1:11
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    @Zizouz212 No it's not! – curiousdannii Aug 24 '15 at 1:12
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    @Zizouz212 curiousdannii is right. This is well within the purpose of FLOSS. Guaranteeing the right to redistribute & modify is one of the core tenets of both philosophies. The motivation behind it that violates the spirit of collaboration, not FLOSS ideals themselves. – RubberDuck Aug 24 '15 at 1:42
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    With that said, though, the statement is rather nebulous to me. "power" over what? Over the projects? Over the users? Basically, having a site does not inherently mean any power. What it can provide is a feeling of having achieved something. Or do you maybe mean that, the feeling of having the power to achieve something of note? – O. R. Mapper Aug 24 '15 at 9:27
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1.It's open-source, so I can host my own builds of software that I compiled myself.

Yes. You can.

2.The names of the projects are not registered, so I can use them at my own will and it's not illegal. Also, if the name is ambigious or vague, this just lends me even more leverage.

Are you sure about this? Just because the names aren't registered doesn't mean the owner doesn't have unregistered trademark protection. You better double check the license and consult a lawyer in this one. You may be able to use the name under fair use, but you'll need to make it clear that you're unaffiliated with the project. This is dangerous ground and thinking.

  1. I do not claim to own them, but just simply want my own site about them (i.e., "fan site," or maybe what is possibly known as a "mirror site" that may host builds but is not the "official" site, etc.).

Most FLO licenses give you the right to freely distribute. Double check to be sure its really a FLO license and you have the right to redistribute.

  1. Not a penny is made off of any of the projects, so it's impossible for me to "steal money."

That's noble at least.


There's nothing that I'm aware of to stop you from hosting a mirror and creating content around someone else's project, but I fear you're wanting to do this for the wrong reasons.

Basically, it's a way of deluding myself into thinking I have power, but not claiming I own them.

That just sounds... dirty and completely in opposition to the collaborative spirit of FLOSS. If you want power, become a politician. If you want to contribute to a FLOSS project, contribute. I personally would love for somebody to document and promote my project. It would save me a ton of time and effort. Just contact the project maintainers and ask if they'd be interested in what you would like to do. Not only is it the right thing to do (regardless of the fact you don't have to), I bet you make some friends doing it.

  • regarding #2 -- There was a problem about 5 years back where a group did something similar in the library community, which caused a bunch of headaches and a lawsuit. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – Joe Aug 27 '15 at 15:55
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There is nothing wrong ethically or legally with hosting a site that has discussion space for a particular (open source or not) software product. Nor is there anything wrong with hosting builds and and source of an open source project.

There is something wrong though with giving the impression that you are affiliated with some project when in fact you are not.

Legally, you may not infringe on any of the trademarks of the project. You may not use a trademark to (among other things) pass off as another organization. In some jurisdictions this requires the trademark to be registered, in others it doesn't.

Many projects wouldn't mind at all if you hosted builds, sources and forums, and might even applaud it (though your stated need to feel powerful makes me think you'd be a bad forum moderator).

An example of a site that is unaffiliated with, but about an open source project is http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/, a website that publishes news articles about Ubuntu.

As a possibly more constructive way to think you have power is to realise that you actually do have power. You can tailor the software to your own needs by writing patches. You don't need permission for that. You don't need permission to distribute them either, you can always fork the project (though it may be more productive to just be a contributor to the project)

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    This. Somebody made a site for one of my projects once and I got it taken down by enforcing an unregistered trademark. The guy who did it was clueless with regards to trademark law, apologised profusely and is now an occasional contributor to the official project. – Abhi Beckert Aug 24 '15 at 20:52

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