Sometimes a GitHub Gist contains carefully crafted code that seems to qualify for what the Apache License would call a "original work of authorship", but the as far as I can tell the author never selected or knowingly agreed upon a license.

Is there a default license for content on gists.github.com?

What I assume is that code published in this way is not considered to be a complete work but only an example and can therefore be copied and used with or without credit to the original author.

  • 3
    In addition to the duplicate question (what is the default license), you raise the issue of copyrightability. Many copyright systems require some degree of non-obviousness and creativity to be protected by copyright. But quantity is not the only mark of creativity: a short Haiku or Limerick poem, or a single-line APL program would certainly be protected, whereas 5MB of logfiles would be not. If in doubt, assume that a work (e.g. a non-trivial code snippet) is protected. Also note that merely crediting the author does not give you permission to use the creative work!
    – amon
    Nov 14, 2015 at 9:41
  • 49
    I don't agree this being marked as a duplicate as the question is specific to GitHub Gists. It could be that the Gists site has an implicit license definition for published code snippets similar to StackOverflow implying the MIT License for code contributions.
    – sschuberth
    Aug 8, 2016 at 13:12
  • 6
    Github says a Gist is a Git repository, which means at least that everyone is allowed to view and fork a public Gists according to GitHub's TOS.
    – kapex
    Feb 16, 2017 at 15:09
  • 4
    Some people do this: gist.github.com/martinbuberl/c0de29e623a1e34d1cda7e817d18bafe
    – fodma1
    Dec 27, 2017 at 5:05
  • 1
    @kapex I'm not sure that would hold up in court.
    – Ryan Leach
    Oct 29, 2018 at 23:39


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