Is open-source really free to use?

I came across a very interesting legal case for open source software. Let's consider the following: one of the contributors to your code base turned out to be a minor (16l). I was just wondering if minors (persons under the age where they can legally enter into a contract, without a parents signature) can contribute to open source software. Couldn't there be a case where a contribution was made but then the parent later says that the work (by the minor) will not be released under an open source licence?

Theoretically, these are very far-reaching implications, because each MIT library used in code may not be open source if created by 16 years old.

Let's imagine such a library is used in millions of copies of other software, and this is the case, hmm. Or better, the minor's parents say that they don't like the MIT license, but the GPL is ok. Will a million copies of other software get infected with the GPL license?

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    I'm hesitant to reply to this, since it seems to be a platform to scare-monger about the GPL (oh, no, you're required to exchange something of value for the thing you've gotten, to protect the commons!), and I'm certainly not a lawyer, but...

    This is about risk. There's always the possibility that your local store is selling stolen goods. There's always a chance that you just bought software from a big company that once employed contractors from a country under sanction. You might be planning to sell a product online that is subject to obscure export restrictions. It's not even out of the question for a disgruntled software engineer to copy their employer's code directly into the most relevant publicly-licensed projects. I once worked in an office where we had an intern from the local high school, who we let write some code, so even this specific situation isn't necessarily limited to Free Software. Patents are an evergreen issue in the space, since most developers don't scour the last twenty years of issued patents to make sure that they're not about to infringe anything.

    In most cases, we just assume that's a problem to deal with only after it arises; in a lot of cases, someone'll just pull the offending commits and replace them. Something like a government contract, though, might be high-stakes enough that it makes sense to investigate the upstream contributors.

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      “ I'm hesitant to reply to this, since it seems to be a platform to scare-monger about the GPL”

      Quite contrary, Sir. We are making open-source from 10 months and we are trying to find some ways to protect our code-base from contributions that will make our users exposed to consequences that they do not expected from opensource code.

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    I am not a lawyer, but I believe open-source software licenses are not a contract but instead a way of attributing copyrights (and a minor can hold copyrights). As I understand it, the license is about using a piece of open-source software, not contributing to it.

    Sidenote: "open-source" doesn't mean "free to use," as some people reading the title may assume. That depends on the license, and there are prohibitive ones.

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      I am not a layer too :) Mabye what I write does not make sense at all.

      What I meant in the post is the situation when a minor contributes to a open-source project. Contributing means giving some rights to the code he has written to others.

      A minor can hold copyrights but may not be able to pass that rights against parents will.

      If it is true then code contributed to open-source project can actually not be an open-source because a minor (though has a copyright) may not be able to let others use his code without parents agreement.

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        I must say I am really confused.

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