GitHub recently introduced its Licences API, available in Preview. It also presented some statistics about license usage over its history.
GitHub is often criticized for its lax approach to software licencing. It deosn’t require users to specify a licence when setting up a new project and its previous attempt to encourage users towards licensing their projects had a limited effect as shown in this chart:
The spike in the graph from around 15% to over 20% corresponds to the introduction of ChooseALicense.com, a license picker with information about different options. Even here, however, users are let off the hook with the final option being:
The information presented if you explore this option is:
You’re under no obligation to choose a license and it’s your right not to include one with your code or project. But please note that opting out of open source licenses doesn’t mean you’re opting out of copyright law.
It goes on to remind users that GitHub’s terms of service allows other users to view and fork any repository.