Research ethics vs. projects with no license

GitHub is a great resource for empirical software engineering research. We have done some work on the research ethics elements of analysing public projects plus their GitHub data and it is our understanding that if the projects have adopted a compliant open-source license explicitly, analysing them and their GitHub data for research purposes is in line with the GitHub Terms (please correct me if I am wrong).

It is also our understanding that analysing public projects that have not adopted a license would violate GitHub Terms. Would you be able to confirm our understanding?

Premise: I’m not a GitHub employee.

But, from my personal experience in this community, I understand that legal advise is discouraged, for various reasons — the most obvious being that this is a world-wide community, and each country has different laws regarding computer related topics like data, privacy, copyright, etc., and different interpretations of licenses, and other legal issues.

I’m sure GitHub employees can clarify aspects of the GH Terms and policies.

Data gathering is a complex issue when it comes to law, and much depends on how the data was collected — one thing is taking hand notes on a few selected repositories, explored by an individual; another thing is data mining thousands of repositories using an automated tool.

For general legal questions (i.e. not relating to GH Terms and policies) I suggest you post your question on a dedicated forum, like:

There you’ll find qualified lawyers from around the world who might give you various answers and a better perspective.

Again: this is my humble and personal opinion, and does not amount to legal advise and I claim no expertise.