In many licenses you have to (or can?) state who is the author of the project, which is the one who "owns" the intellectual property (= the copyright holder). In the MIT license it e.g. is said like this:
Copyright (c) %year% %copyright holders%
Note: I use
% here as a indicator for a variable.
So which of the following "copyright holders" is valid and if not, why not? (To have a complete list I also included the usual copyright statements. They should be easy to answer.)
The complete way:
%first name% %second name% <%mail address%> or %second name%, %first name% <%mail address%>
The simple way using your full name:
%first name% %second name% or %second name%, %first name%
Paul Speer or Speer, Paul
Only using your first name:
Using a pseudonym, which is rarely used (so not something generic such as "softwaredeveloper") and can be assigned to you (because you also use it on GitHub, ...):
Using a pseudonym, which not so rare:
Using a name of a company registered in the US:
Additional question: As this company might not be registered in non-US countries might mean the license is only valid in the US?
Using a name of a company not registered anywhere:
MyStrangeCompany (MSC) Corporation
Referring to a author file:
%refer to author file%
see AUTHORS or see AUTHORS.txt or see AUTHORS.txt file
In the "AUTHORS(.txt)" file a list of contributors is added in a way you consider valid. So the authors are e.g. listed in one of the above ways per line.
Note: I have often seen this in addition to a "usual" copyright holder as listed above. (so it might be
%first name% %second name% and other contributors, see AUTHORS file.)
Referring to the contributors in general:
%refer to contributors%
Paul Speer and contributors
Note: I have seen this used "in the wild".
Referring to the contributors in general in addition to a valid author:
%copyright holder% and %refer to contributors%
All %project name% contributors
Just leave it out and only state
Copyright (c) %year%: