[Python-Dev] Microsoft to acquire GitHub for $7.5 b

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Thu Jun 7 00:41:27 EDT 2018

On Wed, Jun 06, 2018 at 05:59:17PM -0700, Chris Jerdonek wrote:

> Is the “service” they provide (and what it needs) allowed to change over
> time, so that the rights granted can expand?

Of course it can change. And they might not even need to give us notice. 
But that's no different from any other service provider, including your 
ISP, your phone provider, your electricity provider, etc.

If we're to be concerned about changes to terms and conditions, we 
should be equally concerned about Google, Apple, Amazon, Red Hat, Oracle 
etc. We shouldn't be uniquely or especially concerned just because 
Microsoft has purchased Github. Nothing has changed.

Github (the old Github, before being sold) were not "the Good Guys", and 
Microsoft is not "the Bad Guys". Github were a commercial entity, run by 
venture capitalists only in it for the money, with a brogrammer culture 
that was (allegedly) highly toxic to women. If Github didn't try to make 
a grab for their users' content, it was because they made a commercial 
decision that stealing the IP for a thousand versions of "leftpad" for 
Node.js was not worth the harm they would do to their business, not 
because they're nice guys who wouldn't do that.


I know that suspicion and fear of Microsoft's bona fides is a long 
running tradition in FOSS circles, but Microsoft is subject to the same 
sorts of commercial realities as any other corporation: there is a limit 
to how evil they can be for the LOLs and still stay in business. They 
are no more likely to grab users' content than Github were, and for 
the same reasons.

Actually, probably LESS likely. The sort of companies who are 
Microsoft's important customers, the ones with deep pockets willing to 
pay for services like Github's, are if anything even more cognisant of 
the value and importance of so-called Intellectual Property than the 
average FOSS user, and far more likely to be defensive over some hosting 
company trying to claim rights to their IP.

(Personally, I'm more concerned about MS trying to become another 
Google, profiling us -- all the better to sell our personal data -- by 
matching up our Github identies with everything we do on the internet. 
But again, that's not unique to Microsoft. Every second website, these 
days, wants to follow your every click and watch everything you do. But 
that's a rant for another day.)


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