Assuming the following situation:

  • I am having a GitHub open-source repository, licensed under the MIT license
  • I want to document the software on a website with a logo and usage examples, hosted open-source on GitHub
  • I want to prevent others from re-publishing the website or use my logo anyhwere else, but want to allow contributions (edits/forks) of the website

From my point of view it is impossible to host the website inside a "gh-pages" branch and disallow re-publishing and at the same time. A fork will always mean the website will be copied and re-published under a different origin too (user.github.io/repo). The only solution I see so far would be to create a spearate repository for the website. Thereby the website contents will be forked, but not published under a different origin.

So it would be necessary to use a separate repository for the project itself and for its website.

Therefore my questions is:

  • How should the footer of the website and the LICENSE file in the websites repository look like, to make clear that you can use the related project (MIT license) and you can fork the website when sending changes as a pull request, but you are not allowed to re-publish the website or its content nor use the logo

Thank you in advance.

  • Is your concern any reuse of the logo, or inappropriate reuse? Many open source projects have trademark policies for their logos. Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 0:47
  • @curiousdannii Could you please give me an example? I don't want it to appear anywhere else than on the website. It could confuse users.
    – dude
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 6:22
  • Do you want the images to be open source or not? It's really not clear what you're after. Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 6:28
  • Though if you don't want anyone to publish their own version, then it doesn't sound like any of it would be open source. Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 6:29
  • apologize if it was not immediately clear. The entire website will be open-source on GitHub. But users should not have permissions to use any part of the website (content, documentation, images, logo, videos, etc.) anywhere else. It's just open-source to allow contributions with pull requests to this website, not to launch something based on it.
    – dude
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 6:34

1 Answer 1


This is really about a practical problem caused by the way GitHub's forking works, together with how the gh-pages branches automatically creates a public page. If you believe that this arrangement makes it far too easy1 for users to accidentally republish your website against your wishes, then by all means look for a different hosting arrangement as you've suggested. However the question of licensing or how to display that info is orthogonal.

As you are the original author, you can license your works in any way you want. This includes mixed licenses, or having different parts of your project under different, even incompatible licenses. Git branches, GitHub forks etc. are all technical details that do not affect your rights as the copyright holder.

There's also no requirement on how you display your website's copyright info. You don't need a website footer containing copyright information, as almost all works have automatic copyright the moment they're published. So if you're concerned that people will mix up your website's and your project's licenses, or if they'll assume the absence of a copyright means they can do anything with it, or if they assume that something being on GitHub automatically means it's open/free, then it's up to you to educate them, which is a UX problem. Usually that's what footers are for: look at the SE one: site design / logo © 2016 Stack Exchange Inc; user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required. That's one way you can do it: just say so in the footer. If you think using a different repo or web host altogether will also help, then by all means go with that.

1 The only practical concern, as you've mentioned, is that if someone wants to work on your open source project, they can't avoid also publishing a copy of your website if it's under the gh-pages branch. I haven't tried myself, but according to folks on SO, the website creation isn't automatic, but occurs when you perform a push, or specifically a push to the gh-pages branch. Technically their only right is to fork, and they can't push to gh-pages if you don't give permission, but still it's far too easy to do this by accident, since many git clients may be set up to push all branches by default.

  • Thank you for this explanation. You have taken me a little uncertainty. However, could you please answer my question how a LICENSE file and the footer should look like, to make these requirements legally clear?
    – dude
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 7:03
  • For the LICENSE file, see opensource.stackexchange.com/q/2692/175. For the footer, I already gave an example. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 7:09
  • This gives me an idea how it could look like, but does not show me how exactly the sentences should be to fit the described legal requirements.
    – dude
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 13:40

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