Related to but distinct from What can I assume if a publicly published project has no license?
I'm working on piece of web-based software under the AGPL, which I may monetize in the future on a pay-for-content (rather than the software) basis.
One requirement of my software is to interface with midi pianos. The web midi interface is relatively new technology (only available in Chrome so far), and there don't seem to be any exist any published libraries that simplify and abstract over the raw browser APIs.
There does exist a website with accompanying github repository which interfaces with midi pianos, contains very user-friendly configuration and discovery of midi devices, etc. The repository has no license file. The site's
About page includes the following:
A work in progress
This app is far from complete and is still being developed. If you have ideas or feedback please get in touch. If you'd like to contribute to this app, you can find the source code on GitHub: (link)
The invitation for contributions makes it unlikely that the author intended to publish to GH in the "all rights reserved" sense, since that would prevent others from modifying a fork and creating a pull request.
The repository includes an old, unacknowledged
License file missing issue, and I've emailed the author referencing the issue and asking for clarification but received no response. The author has made recent contributions to GH so is unlikely to be dead.
Given the above, I know that I'm not able to use code from this repository in my own project. That said, I'm a wimpy baby who hates working directly with browser APIs and I dread undertaking this work on my own from scratch.
How much risk do I assume if I have a good look at the relevant code in this repo and then write my own from scratch two weeks later?