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Github Legal Disputes

Posted by Steve Vondran | Feb 01, 2024

Vondran Legal® - Github Dispute Resolution Law Firm - Call us at (877) 276-5084.

Github account freezeout


Welcome to Vondran Legal®, a top-tier IP and litigation law firm specializing in Github dispute resolution. Our attorney and staff is dedicated to helping clients navigate the complexities of disputes and potential litigation involving Github, an online platform for hosting and collaborating on software projects. With over two decades of experience representing both individuals and businesses in a variety of internet and IP related legal disputes, we have developed the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively handle any Github-related legal matters.

What is Github?

Github is a popular online platform used by developers and programmers around the world for hosting, managing, and collaborating on software projects. It allows users to store code, track changes, manage versions, and work together with other users in real-time.  Github has become an essential tool for developers and businesses alike, as it streamlines the development process and enables efficient collaboration on complex projects.

Why is legal support necessary for Github?

With its increasing popularity and widespread use in the technology industry, disputes and potential legal issues related to Github have also risen. These can include copyright infringement, breach of contract, trade secret theft, and other intellectual property (IP) disputes. Without proper legal support, individuals and businesses may find themselves facing costly lawsuits or losing valuable rights over their software projects.

Common types of disputes

The following types of legal disputes can arise from the use of Github :

1. Copyright infringement:Github allows users to share and collaborate on code, making it easier for people to use or copy other individuals' or companies' work without proper authorization. This can lead to copyright infringement claims if the original creator of the code did not give permission for its use.  

2. Breach of contract: When collaborating on projects through Github, parties may enter into agreements outlining their roles and responsibilities. If one party fails to fulfill their obligations as outlined in the agreement, this can result in a breach of contract dispute.

3. Trade secret theft: Github is often used by businesses to store confidential information such as source code, algorithms, and proprietary software. If this information is accessed or misused without authorization, it can result in the loss or theft of valuable trade secrets.  These can be "bet the farm" litigation cases as a company can lose its trade secrets if disclosed to the public.

4.  Partnership and business disputes:  Parties may form companies, or enter into partnerships (either oral or written) and this can involve the use of a GitHub account, and lockout of one or more parties from being able to use the software code or access the account.  These can result in bitter disputes requiring a skilled negotiator with a strong litigation background.

5.  Account takedown by Github.  If a user's account is taken down by Github, it can result in the loss of access to important source code and collaboration tools. This can significantly impact a company's ability to function and may even lead to legal action if it was due to false claims or infringement allegations.

6. Breach of Non-disclosure agreements (NDA): When collaborating with other individuals or companies on a GitHub project, it is crucial to have non-disclosure agreements in place, and to make sure these are adhered to.  If not, a breach of contract action may be required.

7. Promissory estoppel claims This arises where one person makes promises to induce another person (ex. software developer) into spending time to create code, debug software code, or to take other actions to help develop and software project, or to otherwise build up the popularity of the GitHub account (ex. increase stars, followers, and contributions that make the repository more valuable).  When this inducement, and subsequent failure to honor a business promise, leads to damages, it can become actionable under state or federal law.

8.  Access agreements:  spell out access rights with a written contract.

9.  Open source license disputes

10.  Copyright issues, artificial intelligence (AI copying of your source code), fair use opinions, and infringement analysis.

Oral Partnerships involving GitHub repositories

With over 73 million users of GitHub, many software developers and tech startup companies, disputes are bound to arise.  One person may lock out another, or change their mind and not want to honor a partnership agreement (most states allow oral partnerships to be enforced).  Other times, one party may want to take the software code, or repository and dissacociate with the other causing one of the parties to lose a substantial time commitment spent in creating valuable software code, and building up the repository with likes, contributions, and followers (all valuable attributes).  In fact, there is a website that seeks to calculate the value of a GitHub account - go to GitHub Worth Generator.

Github repository dispute law firm

While this may not be the most scientific assessment of value of a Github repository as one might want, it does show that accounts do have value, and in the case of an improper freeze-out, legal damages may be readily assessed and sought to recover in litigation or arbitration.

To learn more about oral partnerships, watch this Attorney Steve® video

Github appeal and reinstatement

Another issue that can arise is when GitHub shuts down your account for violation of its terms of service.  According to their website:

While the majority of interactions between individuals in GitHub's community fall within our Acceptable Use Policies and Community Guidelines, violations of those policies do occur at times. When they do, GitHub staff may need to take enforcement action to address the violations. However, in some cases there may be a basis to reverse a moderation action taken by GitHub Staff.   Both appeals and reinstatements arise in relation to disabling of content or restrictions to access an account.

Reinstatement: The user wishes to regain access to their account or content and is willing to make any necessary changes to address the violation and must agree not to violate our terms going forward.

Appeal: The user disputes that a violation occurred and can provide additional information to show that a different decision should have been reached.

They offer an appeal form, but it would be WISE to consult with an IP lawyer, or retain a lawyer to review your situation BEFORE you reach out and respond.  Once you put things in writing, it is very difficult to ever take a contrary position at a later date.

Important GitHub terms of acceptable use to know

We do not allow content or activity on GitHub that:

-is unlawful or promotes unlawful activities;

-is sexually obscene or relates to sexual exploitation or abuse, including of minors;

-is libelous, defamatory, or fraudulent; is discriminatory or abusive toward any individual or group;

-is false, inaccurate, or intentionally deceptive information and likely to adversely affect the public interest (including health, safety, election integrity, and civic participation); harasses or abuses another individual or group, including our employees, officers, and agents, or other users;

-threatens or incites violence toward any individual or group, especially on the basis of who they are;

-gratuitously depicts or glorifies violence, including violent images; or is off-topic, or interacts with platform features in a way that significantly or repeatedly disrupts the experience of other users.

We do not allow content or activity on GitHub that:

-infringes any proprietary right of any party, including patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, right of publicity, or other right;

-unlawfully shares unauthorized product licensing keys, software for generating unauthorized product licensing keys, or software for bypassing checks for product licensing keys, including extension of a free license beyond its trial period;

-impersonates any person or entity, including any of our employees or representatives, including through false association with GitHub, or by fraudulently misrepresenting your identity or site's purpose; 

-or violates the privacy of any third party, such as by posting another person's personal information without consent.

Trademark violations on GitHub

Their site discusses trademark violations:

When we receive reports of trademark policy violations from holders of federal or international trademark registrations, we review the account and may take the following actions:

  • When there is a clear intent to mislead others through the unauthorized use of a trademark, GitHub will suspend the account and notify the account holder.
  • When we determine that an account appears to be confusing users, but is not purposefully passing itself off as the trademarked good or service, we give the account holder an opportunity to clear up any potential confusion. We may also release a username for the trademark holder's active use.

Github follows the DMCA Takedown and Counter-notification process

Here is a video I did on my "Litigation Whiteboard®" series that discusses how infringing content gets taken down, and reinstated if there is a counter-notification process (unless a federal court infringement lawsuit is filed within 10 days).  This deals with Etsy infringement, but the same principles apply to GitHub.


  1. Top GitHub accounts
  2. GitHub Co-pilot lawsuit
  3. Doe vs. GitHub

Contact an IP lawyer to handle your GitHub dispute

At Vondran Legal, we understand the nuances of internet, technology and IP software law and have extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of IP-related disputes.  We have appeared in over 500 IP litigation cases in the federal courts of California, Texas, and New York.  We have also been identified as one of the top copyright infringement law firms in the United States by Lex Machina. 

Call us at (877) 276-5084 or fill out our contact form for more information.

About the Author

Steve Vondran

Thank you for viewing our blogs, videos and podcasts. As noted, all information on this website is Attorney Advertising. Decisions to hire an attorney should never be based on advertising alone. Any past results discussed herein do not guarantee or predict any future results. All blogs are written by Steve Vondran, Esq. unless otherwise indicated. Our firm handles a wide variety of intellectual property and entertainment law cases from music and video law, Youtube disputes, DMCA litigation, copyright infringement cases involving software licensing disputes (ex. BSA, SIIA, Siemens, Autodesk, Vero, CNC, VB Conversion and others), torrent internet file-sharing (Strike 3 and Malibu Media), California right of publicity, TV Signal Piracy, and many other types of IP, piracy, technology, and social media disputes. Call us at (877) 276-5084. AZ Bar Lic. #025911 CA. Bar Lic. #232337

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