A project I am following uses the WTFPL but updated the text to replace the copyright statement

Copyright (C) 2004 Sam Hocevar <[email protected]> 

with the project author's name and email address, and the year that they adopted the license.

I tried to convince them that the copyright statement pertains to the license itself, and that they should not change it; but I find it hard to find any resources to support my understanding.

Are there web pages or other public and ideally reasonably authoritative documents or statements which clarify this? Or could you argue that my interpretation is correct or incorrect based on general principles?

1 Answer 1


The second item in the WTFPL FAQ makes it fairly clear that the copyright notice in the license applies to the license itself, not the project using the license:

These are the rules for the license; they mean Sam Hocevar wrote the license, and you can modify it if you want, you just cannot call your version the WTFPL.

The first FAQ item provides instructions for supplying your own copyright notice, which make it clear that your project's copyright information should be stored external to the license text itself. Also, those instructions use the obvious template Copyright © 2000 Your Name <your@address> (which is intended to be changed) rather than the specific Sam Hocevar statement present in the WTFPL itself (which is not intended to be changed).

  • "should be stored elsewhere", as I read it seems that you can also past that information above the actual WTFPL licenze. "you can copy/paste the license text under the above mention" is that assessment correct? Mar 14, 2019 at 10:12
  • @PetterFriberg I agree with your understanding of that "you can copy/paste" sentence, so maybe my use of "elsewhere" isn't quite the right word. You certainly could put your copyright information right alongside the license text, but my point is my that your project's copyright notice should be lexically external to the license text. (Lexically adjacent is okay.) The OP's situation is that someone is inserting their own copyright notice in the middle of the license text, and removing the copyright notice present on the license.
    – apsillers
    Mar 14, 2019 at 12:10

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