Dispute between open source community and GitHub escalates

After starting Copilot, the Software Freedom Conservancy calls for leaving GitHub – open source projects from Microsoft are too dependent.

 Dispute between open source community and GitHub escalates

Following a fire letter against GitHub by the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), parts of the open source community are discussing dependence on commercial providers. In this specific case, it is Microsoft, which took over the code hosting service in 2018.

Microsoft does not want our best

The SFC has several issues: Firstly, it is acting GitHub is proprietary software that users cannot operate themselves – with a corresponding resulting dependency on Microsoft, a traditionally controversial group when it comes to open source. Furthermore, GitHub would make commercial profit from free projects, as recently with Copilot. The latter AI service was also trained on the basis of FOSS code – and although some of these licenses contain a copyleft clause, the provider simply ignored this. Specifically, such a clause requires that works must appear under the same free license as the original work.

The SFC also points out that a similar case has already occurred with SourceForge. Too many free projects depended on the service, and the latter gradually became worse for the open source community. In fact, the once-popular provider lost most of its projects to an adware disaster when, from 2013 onwards, it optionally included advertising software with the downloaded installers and from 2015 without the developer’s consent – ​​with GIMP as a prominent representative of the FOSS world.

GIMP now relies on GitLab, but operates a GitHub mirror – and the latter has so far also applied to projects of the SFC itself. But this is not the only thing that is history with the brand letter, the SFC also does not want to take on any new members who do not want to join in the long term want to disconnect from Microsoft’s service. They do not want to prescribe this for existing SFC projects, but with the appropriate help, as many FOSS developers as possible should switch. The SFC has compiled resources for this on its own page.

Is the break thanks to Copilot?

Copilot has drawn criticism since the beginning of the test phase – not only the SFC complains that GitHub its could have created a paid AI service using only free software. The provider even underlines the latter – with words of praise to the community – and wants to take revenge by allowing students and maintainers to use Copilot for free. However, this statement could not soothe: ignoring the critical questions now resulted in an open call for free software and commercial interests to go their separate ways again.


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