When in the open source licenses is required to indicate the author, can i use simply the domain of the website (not the company name)?

@curiousdannii thanks for point me this other question, but i don't think that answer to my question.

I'm no talking about just for the MIT license, and my request is for use the websites domain, not a general unregistered company.

  • 2
    The copyright notice must identify the copyright holder, which is usually a natural person, a legal entity (such as a company), or a set of multiple copyright holders. A domain name is not a legal entity that can hold any rights. The linked question is not specific to the MIT license and answers this perfectly.
    – amon
    Jul 30, 2018 at 5:32
  • Thanks amon, a pseudonym it's ok?
    – Orso Nero
    Jul 30, 2018 at 6:50

1 Answer 1


First, modern copyright law imposes no requirement to include a copyright notice whatsoever. You could include no copyright notice, and your work would be just as covered by copyright law as a work with a copyright notice. So, yes, it's likely fine to use a domain name in any copyright notice that you choose to include, with a few caveats.

  1. While your copyright is safely intact regradless, you may be forfeiting some procedural advantage by not using your name or a proper peusdonym. For example, in the U.S., per 17 U.S.C. §401(b), a valid copyright notice requires

    (3) the name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner.

    I don't know that a domain name would qualify as an "alternative designation of the owner" (possibly, but I really don't know).

    However, even if it does not qualify, the consequences of the invalidity of your notice are virtually zero. The only advantage (in the U.S.) follows in §401(d):

    (d)Evidentiary Weight of Notice.—
    If a notice of copyright in the form and position specified by this section appears on the published copy [...] then no weight shall be given to such a defendant’s interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement [...]

    A valid notice can invalidate an infringer's claim of innocent infringement, and that's really it. You can probably beat a claim of innocent infringement with an almost-valid copyright notice anyway.

  2. A more serious issue is that domain names are often trademarks. Whether registered or not, they signify the source of goods and services. If you don't own the domain you're using (e.g., if I did Copyright 2018 www.google.com but I don't work for Google) then that could easily be trademark infringement for misrepresenting the source of your code. Of course, you wouldn't tell a baldfaced lie like saying your code came from google.com, but that issue still might arise if you ever abandon the domain. If you forfeit the registration for your chosen domain and someone else buys it to run a completely different site, your code could be legally problematic for claiming association with some foo.com when you no longer own foo.com.


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