Following a fire letter against GitHub by the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), parts of the open source community are discussing reliance on commercial vendors. In this particular case, it’s Microsoft, which took over the code hosting service in 2018.
Microsoft does not want our best interests
SFC hits several points: On the one hand, GitHub is proprietary software that users can’t operate themselves, resulting in a dependency on Microsoft, a group that’s traditionally controversial when it comes to open source. Also, GitHub would make commercial profit from free projects, like recently with Copilot. This latest AI service was also trained on the basis of the FOSS code, and although some of these licenses contain a copyleft clause, the provider simply ignored it. Specifically, such a clause requires that the works must appear under the same free license as the original work.
The SFC also points out that there has already been a similar case with SourceForge. Too many free projects depended on the service, and the latter gradually got worse for the open source community. In fact, the once-popular vendor lost most of its projects due to an adware disaster when, from 2013, it optionally bundled adware with downloaded installers and from 2015 without the consent of developers, with GIMP being the prominent representative. from the FOSS world.
GIMP now depends on GitLab, but it operates a mirror of GitHub, and the latter has also been applied to SFC projects itself. But it’s not just history with the brand letter, the SFC also doesn’t want to hire any new members who don’t leave Microsoft in the long run wants to take the service offline. They don’t want to prescribe this for existing SFC projects, but with the right help, as many FOSS developers as possible should switch. The SFC has the resources to do so on a separate page collected.
Will the break come thanks to the co-pilot?
Copilot has received criticism since the beginning of the testing phase: it is not only SFC complaining that GitHub could have created its paid AI service exclusively with the help of free software. The vendor even underscores the latter – with words of praise to the community – and wants revenge by allowing students and maintainers to use Copilot for free. However, this statement failed to calm: ignoring critical questions now resulted in an open call for free software and commercial interests to go their separate ways again.
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