I've written a 3-BSD library while working someplace for a few years; and myself and my workplace are copyright holders jointly. After leaving, I've continued development - on my own. Naturally, my previous workplace does not hold the copyrights on these changes.

How do I indicate this fact in the license notice? Should I have two (c) lines?

1 Answer 1


The clearest way to indicate that your (former?) workplace has no copyright interest in the later changes is indeed to add a new copyright notice with only your name on it for those later changes.

If you and your workplace worked on the library from 2018 to 2020 and you continued on your own in 2020, the copyright notices at the top of the file(s) could look like this:

copyright (c) 2018 - 2020 einpoklum, workplace
copyright (c) 2021 einpoklum

The copyright notices do not indicate exactly which part was modified by whom. They just give a broad indication who the copyright holders are.

For details on who made which changes, the history of the repository is a better tool.

  • How is that possible? Suppose my previous library has int foo() { return 1; } and the new library has int foo() { return 2; }. How/where would I add a second copyright notice?
    – einpoklum
    May 1, 2021 at 9:18
  • 3
    @einpoklum The point of a copyright notice is not to indicate exactly which lines are copyrighted by which author's, but to (1) comply with the license's requirement to preserve them and (2) indicate which persons made copyrightable changes to a work in what years. If you want to know which parts are copyrighted by which people, a copyright notice is not a tool that will help you answer that question. (Version control history could be starting point in answering that question, although copyright can exist in an author's non-literal expression that still persists after another's changes.)
    – apsillers
    May 1, 2021 at 12:56
  • Ok, it seems like your suggestion is what I suspected I need to do. Thanks.
    – einpoklum
    May 1, 2021 at 15:13

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