Can you simply just take open-souce content and use it as your own?

I have seen this a lot of times.

For example, this tutorial http://slashtutorial.com/rust/ was taken from https://github.com/stevedonovan/gentle-intro instead of using a link. The website is already published here: http://stevedonovan.github.io/rust-gentle-intro/.


3 Answers 3


The MIT license (i.e., the terms under which Steve Donovan offers gentle-intro) says

Permission is hereby granted [...] to deal in the Software without restriction, including [...] the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software [...] subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

Since slashtutorial.com does indeed include the copyright notice and license text (when you click on the "License" footer link), it may therefore "use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software".

Whether or not you consider this "us[ing] open source content as your own" is a matter of semantics -- certainly the author of slashtutorial.com does not make a claim that it is his or her own, since they clearly attribute Steve Donovan as the copyright holder and author.


You can not take someone else's open-source content and claim that you made it.

What open source licenses do allow is that you make a copy and publish that with or without changes, as long as you acknowledge who owns the copyright on the work.

In the example you give, the version on slashtutorial.com correctly attributes the work to Steve Donovan, so there is no problem there.


@apsillers has answered for the specific case. In general the answer is:

  • You can not claim it as your own.
  • But you do have the following freedoms:

    • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
    • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
    • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
    • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Taken from the Free Software definition. You may also want to consider the less easy to understand Open Source definition. Both say almost the same thing, but the 1st is focused on user freedom, the second is focused on developer something.

You should also always look at specific licences. However reading the definitions, and checking to see if the definition authors have approved a licence is a good and quick start.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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