You’re invited to watch, fork, and collaborate on GitHub’s Terms of Service and other site policies. Back in March we open sourced our Balanced Employee IP Agreement. The feedback from the community has been amazing. Not only have you given us comments and suggestions to make the agreement better, we’ve also heard anecdotes of other companies taking inspiration from it.
Now we’re continuing to harness the power of open source by opening up our GitHub.com site policies in a new working repository, github/site-policy. Here you can view, comment, and suggest changes to our site policies—or fork a copy to adapt for your own site. Along with this new repository, we’re also posting changes to our Terms of Service for public comment.
Save time and money. Although essential for any online service, site policies can be time intensive and expensive to create. We hope that by opening up our privately and publicly vetted policies, your startup will be able to cut down on some of those legal fees.
Improve and iterate. Iteration makes things even better. With the help of our community, we can improve on and build policies that work best for everyone. We welcome your issues and pull requests.
Comment on new changes. Changes to our site policies can have a huge impact on you. The new repository is the perfect way to let us know how. Whenever we have significant changes, we’ll post them as a pull request. From there, you can see the updates and easily leave comments or feedback.
To get you started, we have a new set of changes to our Terms of Service and Corporate Terms of Service. Feel free to look them over and try out the new Site Policy repository to share your input. Please follow our Contributor Guidelines, and let us know if you see anything you think should be different—whether it’s a missed typo or a rule that might have implications we haven’t thought of.
Updates to GitHub Terms of Service: Added a “Private Repositories” section as Section E, updated the licenses granted in Section D for clarity, and updated the Complete Agreement subsection in Section S, “Miscellaneous”
Updates to GitHub Corporate Terms of Service: Added a “Private Repositories” section as Section E, updated the licenses granted in Section D for clarity, updated the Complete Agreement subsection, and added a Publicity subsection to Section S, “Miscellaneous”
Added a product description to the GitHub Business Plan Addendum
Updated the Amendment to GitHub Terms of Service Applicable to U.S. Federal Government Users to reflect previous changes to notification policy
We’ll leave comments open until 5:00 pm PST Friday, July 28. Then we’ll take a week to go through your comments and make changes to improve the Terms. We’ll enact the new Terms on Monday, August 7.
At GitHub, we recognize that running a great business over the long term requires a measure of “work/life balance” – and that includes recognizing that developers and other knowledge workers have creative lives outside of work. Whether that free time creativity involves contributing to open source projects, art, or activism, we want to encourage our employees, not put up legal barriers. We’ve codified this approach in our employee intellectual property (IP) agreement. We’ve made this agreement reusable and have open sourced as the Balanced Employee Intellectual Property Agreement.
By making the agreement an open source project, we hope to lower barriers to and learn more about innovation in this space. The project FAQ includes further background on related law, policies, and projects. Pull requests are welcome.
If you’re in the tech industry, you’ve probably come across some version of an employee IP agreement before. Typically they assign control over your creativity to your employer, to the extent law allows – sometimes even after you’ve left a job, through non-compete covenants. These agreements and underlying laws impact worker mobility, innovation, and regional competitiveness. Most non-compete covenants are not enforceable in California, which researchers have long cited as a key reason the computer industry took off in California instead of another contender such as Massachusetts.
GitHub’s employment agreement goes a bit further than the California default (and applies to employees outside of California). If you’re a GitHub employee, you maintain control over your creation unless it is something “you create, or help create as its employee or contractor” and it is “related to an existing or prospective Company product or service at the time you developed, invented, or created it” or “developed for use by the Company” or “developed or promoted with existing Company IP or with the Company’s endorsement.” It doesn’t matter whether you’ve used company equipment or not.
Earlier this month, we gave you a preview of our Terms of Service update, and we asked for feedback from our community. You responded overwhelmingly! Thank you so much, everyone who sent us feedback. We heard you, and we have edited the Terms accordingly. The new Terms of Service are now effective!
We received nearly 100 comments on our proposed Terms of Service changes. A few clear themes emerged:
Several users asked us to provide a diff of the new Terms compared with the old Terms. We weren’t able to, because we wrote the new Terms from the ground up; they were not an iteration of the old Terms. However, we are happy to provide a diff between the February 7 draft and the final draft. Please take a look at the changes you inspired!
Of course, the things you liked about our new Terms are still there. You’ll still find:
The new Terms of Service are in effect as of today, February 28. You can accept them by clicking the broadcast announcement on your dashboard or by continuing to use GitHub. Again, thank you so much to our user community! You’ve helped us make our Terms better. Please let us know if you have any questions about the new Terms, or if we can help you going forward.
We’re in the process of updating our Terms of Service, and we’d like to get your input on the draft of our new Terms.
In short, our current Terms of Service agreement could do a better job of answering your questions about how our service works. We’ve heard your feedback, and we’re updating our Terms to make them less ambiguous and easier to read so that you know what you’re agreeing to.
In general, this update lets us do a better job of putting our current business practices in clearer terms for our users. Some of the changes you’ll find in the new Terms of Service:
We want your input. Please look over our new Terms, compare them to our old Terms if you want to, and tell us what you think via the new Terms of Service contact form. Let us know if you see anything you think should be different, whether it’s a typo we missed or a rule that might have implications we haven’t thought of.
We’ll leave comments open until 5:00pm (PST) Tuesday, February 21. Then, we’ll take a week to go through your comments, make whatever changes will improve the Terms, and we’ll enact the new Terms on Tuesday, February 28.
We look forward to hearing from you!
To honor our commitment to inclusion, we are launching Inform and Act, a site dedicated to showcasing the work of organizations and projects that promote the free movement of people and ideas—those things that make progress possible. Going forward, we will use this site to communicate our position on social issues and point you to actions you can take to support those most affected.
Our first set of actions is in response to the recent executive order on immigration. We have chosen to support the US Muslim community through a gift of $25,000 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Please join us and donate to CAIR CA while getting involved in one of the open source projects featured on the site.
Ideas for projects and organizations to feature? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.