Those who forget history often inadvertently repeat it. Some of us recall that twenty-one years ago, the most popular code hosting site, a fully Free and Open Source (FOSS) site called SourceForge, proprietarized all their code — never to make it FOSS again. Major FOSS projects slowly left SourceForge since it was now, itself, a proprietary system, and antithetical to FOSS. FOSS communities learned that it was a mistake to allow a for-profit, proprietary software company to become the dominant FOSS collaborative development site.
SourceForge slowly collapsed after the DotCom crash, and today, SourceForge is more advertising link-bait than it is code hosting. We learned a valuable lesson that was a bit too easy to forget — especially when corporate involvement manipulates FOSS communities to its own ends. We now must learn the SourceForge lesson again with Microsoft's GitHub.
GitHub has, in the last ten years, risen to dominate FOSS development. They did this by building a user interface and adding social interaction features to the existing Git technology. (For its part, Git was designed specifically to make software development distributed without a centralized site.) In the central irony, GitHub succeeded where SourceForge failed: they have convinced us to promote and even aid in the creation of a proprietary system that exploits FOSS. GitHub profits from those proprietary products (sometimes from customers who use it for problematic activities).
Specifically, GitHub profits primarily from those who wish to use GitHub tools for in-house proprietary software development. Yet, GitHub comes out again and again seeming like a good actor — because they point to their largess in providing services to so many FOSS endeavors. But we've learned from the many gratis offerings in Big Tech: if you aren't the customer, you're the product. The FOSS development methodology is GitHub's product, which they've proprietarized and repackaged with our active (if often unwitting) help.
Microsoft Did It Again, SFC Urges Developers to Quit GitHub
Microsoft's new service for automatically writing AI-based code, Copilot, has sparked outrage in the Open Source community.
"Microsoft loves open source." So much has been put on this slogan recently, only to change the Open Source community's perspective toward the Redmond company.
And while Microsoft was no longer demonized as the worst thing that could happen to the Open Source, certain of the Redmond tech giant's tactics remained regardless of the times.
[...] And now we get to the core of the issue. Copilot is powered by natural language text and openly available source code, including code in GitHub public repositories. And, of course, you must have a paid subscription or a special invitation from Microsoft to access Copilot.
To put it another way. You are a developer who has contributed valuable content to various GitHub projects over the years. Of course, everyone is welcome to use it.
Would you be satisfied if your code was used for profit by a closed-source app without giving you credit? In its classic fashion, this is where Microsoft tramples on moral boundaries.