Software Freedom Conservancy Issues Call to Give Up GitHub

The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit organization centered around FOSS rights and copyleft compliance, has issued a statement urging developers to leave GitHub, citing FOSS license infringement and other concerns following GitHub’s release of Copilot as a for-profit tool. The SFC says:

We are ending all our own uses of GitHub, and announcing a long-term plan to assist FOSS projects to migrate away from GitHub. While we will not mandate our existing member projects to move at this time, we will no longer accept new member projects that do not have a long-term plan to migrate away from GitHub. We will provide resources to support any of our member projects that choose to migrate, and help them however we can.

According to the organization, reasons to leave GitHub include:

  • Copilot is a for-profit product. 
  • The AI model was trained with projects hosted on GitHub, including many licensed under copyleft licenses.
  • GitHub’s hosting site is, itself, proprietary and/or trade-secret software.
  • GitHub is wholly owned by Microsoft.

The SFC acknowledges that giving up “a ubiquitous, gratis service” is difficult but states that “refusing services is the primary power developers have to send a strong message to GitHub and Microsoft about their bad behavior.” The organization also offers recommendations for how to transition away from GitHub on their Give Up GitHub page.