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I recently forked a project on GitHub. After doing a significant amount of work on the fork I was wondering how to proceed with spinning it off into an independent project. The reason I ask is because the main repository has been abandoned and with no way to contact the author I'm wondering what to do next.

I am aware I can contact GitHub and they will spin off the fork for me so it's independent. What I'm wondering is how best to legally go forward, for example changing the name of the project (as to not confuse people), crediting the original author/project/repository and anything else I may not be aware of.

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If the original project was licensed under GPLv2, then your project must also be GPLv2. You will need to maintain the copyright statements of the original author wherever they appear, which should really be in every file, but you should add copyright statements of your own to files which you have altered. New files should contain your own copyright statement, and the GPL-recommended header saying that they're under GPLv2.

And that's really about it. You don't have to host it on github (and you might want to consider gitlab, who the FSF say are noticeably more free than github). You can host it yourself if you want to. You don't have to credit a repository. Unless the original name has been trademarked, you don't even have to change the name, though it will be a lot less confusing for people if you do.

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