GitHub is increasing efforts to help developers understand and assert their legal rights to source code when challenged under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Leveraging its $1 million Developer Defense Fund founded late last year, the company on June 27 is unveiling its GitHub Developer Rights Fellowship at the Stanford Law School Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic. The goal of the fund and the new fellowship is to help developers navigate the requirements of Section 1201 of the DMCA, which makes it illegal to use source code that bypasses measures that control access to copyrighted material.
GitHub noted that navigating digital rights under the DMCA can be extremely difficult for software developers, especially open source developers working in their spare time without the resources of a large company behind them. When faced with a DMCA takedown notice, it can often be easier and cheaper to just remove code from public view and out of the common good.
But with the GitHub Developer Rights Fellowship, GitHub users will be able to draw on legal expertise as part of GitHub’s Section 1201 review process. When GitHub notifies a developer of a valid DMCA takedown claim, it will also give the developer the option to seek independent legal support through the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at no cost to them.
Further, in addition to providing legal counsel, GitHub fellows will research, educate, and advocate on DMCA and other legal issues important for software innovation. The clinic will also train students and other lawyers on working with developers and advocating on behalf of open source communities.
Through the GitHub Developer Rights Fellowship, GitHub hopes to help shape a developer-friendly legal landscape and balance the scales on legal issues important to open source developers, the company said.