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    In reality, the code is technically owned by no one.

    Absolutely not. The code’s copyright belongs to Azeem. It is available to anyone else under the specific terms he releases it under and only those terms.
    Further there is an implicit namespace in Azeem’s curation and ongoing management of the software. When I download left-pad, I am downloading the one based on my trust in Azeem.

    Post open-source world

    Yes, only 15% of projects on github have licenses, but almost all of the software that gets reused by other developers or that gets contributions has a license.

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      There is no possessive “my” in open source.”

      Of course there is. It’s my copyright that prevents you from re-licensing the code without my approval.

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        Clearly “my” project implies more than mere association. If you send me a patch, I can apply it or I can tell you to get bent. You can apply changes to your fork, but that’s your fork, not mine.

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          I thought npm addressed this pretty clearly in their blog post:

          npm did not “steal” Azer’s code.

          left-pad was open-source code, and explicitly allows republishing by any other author. That’s what happened in this case.

          There’s no license file in the git repo, but it’s marked BSD in the package.json. I wonder what would’ve happened if there were no license?

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            In the absence of an explicit license, in the US, copyrightable works are all rights reserved. Github makes claims about rights you grant by uploading to a Github repository (namely, for anyone else to make a fork of it) but I wouldn’t bet on that holding up in court (nor would I bet against it; courts are capricious and arbitrary) and I sincerely doubt it would cover npm republishing something.

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              I wonder what would’ve happened if there were no license?

              The “imaginary property” advocates would explain that if the cost of reproduction is zero, then npm has a moral imperative to create copies. If the copyright owner of a work fails to make it available in a manner you find agreeable, then you get to use it however you like.

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                Whatever the license, pero github’s ToS, uploading to a github repo gives others fork (in the github sense) the code.

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                That’s a weird article. Do you really have to ask a long-time FOSS developer to realise that project have licenses?

                One interesting question though is how does the problem look like from the point of view of trademark law. Trademarks are domain specific – company producing clothes called Apple can happily coexist with company producing cars called Apple. One can imagine an argument that npm package “kik” is in a different domain than company “kik”.

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                  You’d have to go to case law to answer it (meaning nobody is really in a position to answer, who wouldn’t want to bill for their time). Thirty years ago, “they both have something to do with computers” was a sufficient similarity, but that hasn’t been the case for a while.

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                  Azer can’t ‘take down’ open source code. It’s open source.

                  Define “take down”. He can remove anything he wants from his HTTP server or GitHub account, whether or not he owns the copyright. And if nobody else republishes it, it will stay “down”.

                  Open source is about emphasizing community over self.

                  Sounds more like free software. To me, open source is free software that deemphasizes community and puts an accent on pragmatism.