I forked a repo some time ago and created a few pull requests which went unanswered.

Now, the software is MIT-licensed, and I kept the copyright notice there.

Do I have to rename the software, or whoever forks a repo can keep referring to it by the same name?


  • 3
    This question could be more clear. Are you referring to (1) Using "Fork" on github to send patches to the upstream or compile a custom version for your own use, or (2) creating a fork that uses the same original codebase and diverges in another direction that competes with the original project?
    – Daenyth
    Feb 24, 2014 at 20:22
  • 4
    To extend Daenyth's point, if (2): Legally speaking, the license doesn't require you to do that. But ethically speaking you should. (If nothing else you don't want people you want contributing patches to you mistakenly contributing them with the project with which you are competing) Feb 24, 2014 at 22:59
  • @Daenyth: I tried sending pull requests but the guy didn't reply, so I'd say 2) at this point.
    – nkkollaw
    Feb 25, 2014 at 10:40
  • @Billy ONeal: Got it, thanks. So it's pretty safe to say that that would be the best practice in these cases..?
    – nkkollaw
    Feb 25, 2014 at 10:41
  • 1
    @nbrogi: That's what I'd argue, yes. Feb 26, 2014 at 0:42

2 Answers 2


From the comments:

if you create a fork that uses the same original codebase but diverges in another direction that competes with the original project, even if legally speaking the license doesn't require you to do that, ethically speaking you should change the name of the software.

  • 3
    If the original creators have stopped maintaining the code, then renaming may not be important, especially if there is a decent user base. As a professional courtesy, I would try and contact the people and ask for their opinion Feb 26, 2014 at 23:28

Forking a git repo is not the same necessarily as forking a project for release.

The rules around naming and code reuse are more a matter of that projects particular licence. In git, a fork just means you have a copy of their code in your own remote repository, it says nothing about the licensing or how/if you can release your own version of the project.

We use forks at work - each developer works off a fork of the main repo. Has nothing to do with releasing different versions. It just keeps the main repo clean, and avoids the need to setup rules about who can push to which branches, because each developer owns their own remote copy.

  • Gotcha. That's clear to me. The license is MIT, but as far as I can tell MIT says nothing about names. I was wondering more about best practices...
    – nkkollaw
    Mar 4, 2014 at 9:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.