The authors of a project whose code I wish to use and is licensed under GPL-3.0-or-later have failed to provide a copyright notice. I know what their GitHub organization is. How should I cite their work? Should I just "make up" a copyright notice? Should I leave it out entirely? What years should the copyright notice span?

  • Is the project you wish to use in any way active? If they are, by far the cleanest solution to this problem is to get them to add a copyright notice. Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 10:12
  • Yeah, I've contacted the project maintainers, but in general, you may have to deal with an abandoned project.
    – mkl
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 21:30

1 Answer 1


You probably should not modify or add their copyright notice. If you make a mistake, there could be legal implications.

It is probably best to just give the information you have about them, including a link to their repository.

  • Do you believe that this meets the requirements from Section 4 of the GPL, in particular the requirement to "conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice"? Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 10:13
  • Yes and no. If there is no notice to publish, there is nothing to publish. You have technically published all copyright notices that you were given, which in this case, is none. It does violate the spirit of the GPL, certainly, but if the original copyright holder failed to provide a copyright notice, it'd be ridiculous for them to sue you for not including something they failed to provide. It's a breach, but one that would be hard to enforce in this case. Commented Jun 18, 2022 at 11:54

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