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I have decided to take over an open source (MIT license) project that hasn't been maintained in 4 years, but I want to maintain it on GitLab (as opposed to current GitHub). I have decided NOT to fork the project, but instead clone it and rebrand it and publish it under a different name. Even though this is generally frowned upon, the reason is that I also plan to make extensive breaking changes to the code and alter its API surface substantially and I do not want to mess with existing user base but instead offer them a documented way to modify their projects if they want to. So there would never be any future upstream or downstream changes to or from original project.

Now comes my conundrum. The project contains MIT license which I plan to fully honor and inherit, and MIT license mentions only the original author. For start I intend to implement changes as per answer on "If I fork a project on Github that is licensed under MIT, how do I handle the attribution and copyright notice?".

However, aside from him, there are about a dozen contributors whose code is part of the project. I will preserve the original git history, so they are all mentioned in the git chain, but I need to know if I am required to list them all now in my MIT license? Especially since only one of them has GitLab account, the rest are just listed in contributors section by nick/email (on GitHub its easier because they are directly attributed on the project page). Did the original author make an oversight by not including them in the license file?

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Firstly, let's clear up some terminology:

I have decided NOT to fork the project, but instead clone it and rebrand it and publish it under a different name.

The term "fork" generally means exactly what you're doing: taking a project, and creating your own derivative work with different stewardship. You are doing so as allowed by the copyright holder according to the terms in the MIT license.

GitHub's use of "fork" is rather unhelpful, because a "GitHub fork" is actually just an additional copy of the git repository hosted on their servers, often not intended as a "fork" in the traditional sense at all. I presume they wanted to distinguish between "cloning" to your local machine and "forking" on their server, but as far as git - and copyright - is concerned, there is no such distinction.

Secondly, let's dismiss some irrelevant details:

I want to maintain it on GitLab (as opposed to current GitHub)

and

Especially since only one of them has GitLab account

As far as copyright and licensing are concerned, where you host the files, and what user accounts exist there, are irrelevant. The license should be distributed with the code - if I get a zip file of your project, the relevant license should be in that file.

Now onto the key question:

However, aside from him, there are about a dozen contributors whose code is part of the project. [...] Did the original author make an oversight by not including them in the license file?

Technically, I think you are right: every author who didn't legally reassign their copyright holds copyright to their contributions to the project. However, it's common to simplify the copyright notice to only list major contributors, or include a catch-all like "and other contributors".

A few examples of MIT licenses from a list of MIT-licensed projects on Wikipedia:

GitLab (they also have a contribution agreement, but it doesn't appear to assign copyright, only the right to re-license):

Copyright (c) 2011-present GitLab B.V.

Laravel:

Copyright (c) Taylor Otwell

node.js lists multiple licenses in one file, among which I found the following copyright lines:

Copyright Node.js contributors. All rights reserved.

Copyright Joyent, Inc. and other Node contributors.

Copyright (C) 2012-2018 by various contributors (see AUTHORS)

Copyright (c) 2007 - 2018, Daniel Stenberg with many contributors, see AUTHORS file.

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