I am releasing a program under the GNU GPL v3.0. I need to include a copyright notice.

Is it ok to use my username in the copyright notice as I don't want to use my real name?


The governing document for copyright is the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Its Wikipedia article notes that

The United States initially refused to become a party to the Convention, since that would have required [...] elimination of [the] mandatory copyright notice

Which suggests that the copyright statement doesn't even need to be there for protection, much less that it must state a full name. The convention itself says in Article 7(3) that

In the case of anonymous or pseudonymous works, the term of protection granted by this Convention shall expire fifty years after the work has been lawfully made available to the public. However, when the pseudonym adopted by the author leaves no doubt as to his identity, the term of protection shall be that provided in paragraph (1).

so in convention signatory countries, which is nearly all of them, it is perfectly lawful to publish under a pseudonym, and you don't (entirely) forfeit your copyright protection by so doing. This seems consistent with the law.SE answer that apsillers kindly links to, supra.

If I wanted to publish under a pseudonym and retain maximum control, I'd create a custom GPG key for that pseudonym and use it to sign the copyright notice. If at some later time a dispute about authorship arises, your demonstrable control of the signing key should enable you to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that you are the author.

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