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There's an abandoned project on Sourceforge that I want to change. I downloaded the source files but there was no license files and the source files did not contain license headers.

Does Sourceforge have a license for code unaccompanied by a licence?

10

No, just because the software is hosted on SourceForge does not mean that it is open source. In the United States (and many other countries), works are protected by copyright and the author must grant specific licenses. A work that is uploaded to SourceForge without a specific license granted is protected by copyright.

However, unlike GitHub, SourceForge requires that source code uploaded is released under an OSI-Approved License. They ask users who encounter a project that is not clearly released under an OSI-Approved license to report that project (likely so it can be removed until it comes into compliance with the terms of service).

If you find a project on SourceForge that does not have an explicit license, you should not treat it as open source, but "all rights reserved". It's the safest thing to do. You can't assume a given open source license, since there are drastic differences between MIT, GPL, and LGPL as three examples.


From the SourceForge Terms of Use:

When you submit, post, upload or otherwise provide Code to SourceForge.net, you must designate promptly the software license pursuant to which licensees, including Slashdot Media, obtain rights with respect to such Code. Except as otherwise expressly permitted by these Terms, any Code submitted to SourceForge.net must be licensed to Slashdot Media and other licensees under a license that is: compliant with the Open Source Initiative (“OSI”)’s Open Source Definition (http://www.opensource.org/docs/osd) or certified as an “OSI-Approved License” (http://opensource.org/licenses). Please note that Slashdot Media is not affiliated with the OSI.

From the SourceForge FAQ:

Is the software you provide free?

The software hosted on our site is both free and Open Source. Each project is expected to provides their own Open Source License which contains any restrictions on the use of the software or code. If a project is not free, does not provide source code, or does not contain a valid Open Source License: please report it here.

  • Short of having an explicit license and irrespective of Sourceforge terms, you should not assume any rights to be granted short of viewing the code on the Sf.net site, IMHO. – Philippe Ombredanne Jun 2 '16 at 16:29
  • "Open Source" I do not think it means what you think it means. – Limited Atonement Jun 28 at 19:41
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From the faq

Is the software you provide free?

The software hosted on our site is both free and Open Source. Each project is expected to provides their own Open Source License which contains any restrictions on the use of the software or code. If a project is not free, does not provide source code, or does not contain a valid Open Source License: please report it here.

So no?

However look at the project summary page on sourceforge as the license should be posted there. The binary download may also include the license.

  • 1
    This is incorrect. Please see my answer for the correct interpretation of this FAQ entry. – Thomas Owens Jun 1 '16 at 9:48
  • 1
    @ThomasOwens I wouldn't say incorrect but I suppose it wasn't complete. There is no default open source license. It should be known that this means "all rights reserved" just like on github (where public unlicensed projects can exist). Thank you for looking into the tos. – Old Badman Grey Jun 1 '16 at 15:53

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