I previously asked this at stack overflow but it was closed, I believe because 'programmers' is a more appropriate venue for this question.

I have done some work on the SVN Importer project (Apache license), which appears to be effectively dead (no published changes in 5 years). I have a login to their svn server but do not have commit rights. At any rate, I'd like to convert this project to Git and push my own changes to GitHub. The GitHub site suggests the svn2git tool for converting svn projects to Git, so I was planning to convert the SVN repository to Git, add my changes, and then push this Git repository to GitHub.

I'm wondering, what are the legal requirements and common conventions of this process? Is it acceptable to clone the entire history of the project and move it to GitHub? Also, even though this is essentially a dead project, once I've translated the repository to Git should I put all of my commits onto a non master branch or is it acceptable to use master in this case?

  • I'd say etiquette is to follow the license it was originally published with...but that's just me.
    – rogerdpack
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 22:53
  • I intend to keep the same license. I'm more wondering whether it's legal or otherwise acceptable to convert source repositories and move the project as well as how I should treat it once it's been migrated to GitHub Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 23:03
  • 2
    IANAL but putting a copy of the project on github with your modifications sounds like redistribution. As far as I can tell from the FAQ there shouldn't be any issues.
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 1:37

2 Answers 2


The legal requirements are rather simple: You can clone the project as long as you keep to the terms of the original project's license and you don't use any trademarked names/logos/etc. without permission.

If it it your intention to revive the project (and release your modifications as a follow-up version), then common courtesy dictates that you make an effort to square this with the last maintainers of the project, even if the name is not trademarked.

Common sense dictates that, if you revive an existing project, that you make sure no confusion can arise as to which version people have in their hands, so don't restart your version numbering if possible.

As to how you organize the repository, that is completely up to you. For the outside world it either looks like a fork of the original project, or a revival where the maintainers chose to switch repositories at the same time (which is not uncommon).


Where you put the repository should not have any bearing on the license, unless of course the license specifically mentions relocation or a place where everything has to be submitted. Since prohibiting forks or naming a specific repository or VCS would be anything from stupid to not in the spirit of open source, my NAL opinion is that you'd be just fine. I certainly wouldn't think twice about it.

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