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Subject: Re: copyright notices

Re: copyright notices

From: Daniel Stenberg <>
Date: Sat, 29 Oct 2005 20:15:48 +0200 (CEST)

On Sat, 29 Oct 2005, KÚvin FERRARE wrote:

> Ok, and what if I merged the content of 2 files in one new ? which author
> should I put on the header ?

For that case I think it would fit to write both names.

> What does the copyright refers to ? the file or the content ?

The content.

> What if I created a new file with some code from other files and some of my
> code in it ?

Well, then you start reaching the border-cases but the default rule is always
that if you base the work on someone else's work or use big enough parts of
someone else's, then we consider that author to be the copyright holder.

It isn't really an exact science, but I think we can at least follow this
concept for the clean and easy cases. When you starting reaching 50-50 or so,
I think adding a second name to the copyright is fine.

> I asked several times on the IRC channel, and I was told do do like that, I
> don't intend to steal the property of rockbox code

Perhaps you did but I never saw it or perhaps I didn't have time to respond.
IMHO, you should ask important questions (i.e such ones you really want
someone to respond to) on this list and not rely on people's presense a
specific moment on IRC.

> Also, I can obviously remove my name, but I think it would be more fair and
> more convenient to have a list of authors for a file like I saw in several
> others open source projetcs

First, let's not confuse or mix copyright owner(s) with contributors. A file
typically only have one copyright owner but tens or hundreds of contributors.

Personally, I like and advocate crediting contributors properly. But adding
every single contributor in every single source file the contributor's code or
suggestions may affect is not a method I'd vote for. It would even quickly
become very messy and unmaintainable.

I think credit for contributors are better in meta-data, like in commit
messages and changelogs, rather than in source code.

> example in the linux kernel for a file taken randomly

> * Copyright (C) 1996,97 Ralph Metzler (
> * (c) 1999,2000 Gerd Knorr <>

> What do you think about that ?

This file as most other in the Linux kernel, most certainly has been changed
and improved by lots of other people than just Ralph and Gerd mentioned here.

The credits for those changes are done in commit messages and changelogs in
the Linux kernel, AFAIU.

  Daniel Stenberg -- --
Received on 2005-10-29

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