I was looking for a library implementing a specific protocol for my favorite programming language.

I found one, but noticed that it started out as a straight port of another project. However, in each code file the author have replaced the original copyright with his own.

I opened an issue and pointed out that the copyright can't just be replaced. He asked me what he should have done. And that's why I'm here.

When you start a port it is quite similar. But then the projects probably will diverge depending on the direction they take.

So how should the copyright be handled in these cases?

  • 1
    Nice question! Welcome to Open Source!
    – Zizouz212
    Apr 28, 2016 at 20:58

1 Answer 1


Each copyright notice should remain intact (the old one, and the new one). Each person still owns copyright to their own contributions.

If, down the track, it can be proved that the project has diverged enough that none of the original author's code remains, that author's copyright notice could conceivably be removed. However, I generally would still retain it, if not for legal reasons (if the code could not be considered an original work) then for ethical ones (the project still benefited greatly from the original author's work so it's nice to acknowledge).

However, IANAL.

  • Nice answer! Welcome to Open Source!
    – Zizouz212
    Apr 28, 2016 at 20:58

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