I'm developing in a team of OSS developers and currently my name is specified in all LICENSE files or copyright headers. But, as it's a teamwork instead of writing "Copyright (c) 2017 MY Name" I would like to write "Copyright (c) 2017 The Team Name".

Is this acceptable from a legal point of view?

4 Answers 4


Yes, this is perfectly acceptable and this is a common practice when you want to establish a shared copyright. For instance this is commonly used (with a BSD license) for Chromium that uses a copyright notice of Copyright (c) The Chromium AUTHORS. Several other projects are using a similar approach.

It has the definitive advantage of simplicity as each contributor does not feel compelled to add its own name to any file that is touched.

And the VCS history and/or an AUTHORS file can be used to track actual contributors if need be.

It also makes parsing copyright notices much simpler rather than handling some long, stacked, multilines and multiholders copyright statements (even for more advanced parsers like mine).

All this means brief and clear copyright statements which is a good thing for your project team and your users.

  • 1
    It's also common to have "(c) John Doe, et al." or "John Doe and the other contributors", where John Doe is the founder or administrator who can serve as a point of contact, and then the names of all the other contributors are listed in another file. Jan 20, 2017 at 19:08

Legally the copyright claim "Copyright (c) 2017 MY Name" is not needed for Copyright to apply. So it's not a problem if the claim you make here is not legally binding. The authors wouldn't lose their copyright. It would be good anyway if you have a document defining "The Team Name" if you are using this in copyright statements (I'm thinking of an AUTHORS file).

  • 1
    But how would that behave with contributors? Would I need to add them to AUTHORS or just need to add core members of the GitHub organization?
    – dude
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:00
  • Since most of the time, contributors are also copyright holders, I would add them to this file. If you want, you could separate the file in two parts: Core Team / External Contributors.
    – Zimm i48
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:12
  • so isn't there a reference necessary, e.g. "have a look at the authors file to see who's in the team"? :D
    – dude
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:32
  • Again, this wouldn't be a legal requirement but this is a good idea (you could shorten this to just "see AUTHORS file")
    – Zimm i48
    Jan 16, 2017 at 10:50

It will be better to write the name of the organization / company / Individual who is the legal owner of the code.

The term TEAM is a temporary setup in an organization and there is nothing specific a team does which is not owned by the organization.


Is the team a legal entity? Is it, like, a corporation, partnership, LLC, or something like that? You can just set up a partnership by verbal contract, so maybe that's the right option for your team.

But if you're just a loosely associated group of people, then... who are you trying to say owns the code?

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