I have several open source projects and was about to upload another one (to github) when I started wondering about the licensee in the license text. Some of my existing projects use either my real name, my github handle, or no licensee at all (which it probably shouldn't). I fully own all these repos.

After looking at other questions on this site, it seems using a pseudonym is fine although verifying the identifier of the author can be problematic. Regardless, I'm concerned what would happen if I change my pseudonym down the line as it is more likely that I would change my pseudonym/handle than my real name at some point. Would this suddenly invalidate the license?

In the case of github, I believe they track name changes so I could be verified this way. Also, I could simply add a new line "Copyright (c) <year_of_name_change>, <new_pseudonym_here>" below the existing copyright notice to all my repos if I do change my pseudonym. Would this be sufficient in terms of a copyright notice/license? I guess people who have a copy of my code before the name change are only required to display the original pseudonym (if the license requires it).

1 Answer 1


You as the copyright holder are entitled to change how your copyright is displayed also for past revisions. The point is after all that you receive the recognition you deserve.

Another option (but which also needs explanation) is to amend your existing copyright notice similar like

(c) 1997-2022 Arno Nonymous / NordCoder

The problem in working with pseudonyms is to prove that your pseudonyms are both you, and that you thus are entitled to make the change. Given this consideration your suggestion to just add a new copyright notice with your new pseudonym is definitely the easiest and requires no explanation and justification anywhere and anywhen:

(c) 1997-2021 Arno Nonymous
(c) 2022 NordCoder

  • Thanks for your answer. I guess this applies to both amended scenarios above: What would be some ways to help prove a pseudonym is me? I saw one post suggesting to GPG sign the license file itself for example. Using my real name avoids this but obviously requires me to publish my real name which I might not want to do.
    – NordCoder
    Nov 28, 2022 at 18:10
  • 1
    Yes, using the same gpg key to sign and push commits submitted by both pseudonyms would be good way. However, as you use a pseodonym: do you need to prove to anyone it is both you in a legally sound manner? Or is it enough to state it and accept that some people in the Internet call that statement in question? Nov 28, 2022 at 20:49
  • 1
    @NordCoder, regarding proving a pseudonym, I just asked a question over at Law: law.stackexchange.com/questions/86736/… Nov 29, 2022 at 14:51
  • @planetmaker The latter case. I don't need to prove it but I may potentially have to some day.
    – NordCoder
    Nov 30, 2022 at 8:03
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau Thanks :)
    – NordCoder
    Nov 30, 2022 at 8:05

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