1. Should I add the month (or even day) after forking a project to be more explicit regarding timeline boundaries?

  2. Is there any benefit in doing so?


The MIT License, for example, has the line:

Copyright (c) 2019 foo bar

Now say I fork a project in April 2019 and want to add my copyright line above this one:

Copyright (c) 2019 Daniel
Copyright (c) 2019 foo bar

Could I instead do something like:

Copyright (c) 2019-05 Daniel
Copyright (c) 2019-04 foo bar

³ Also, any idea on why licenses usually ask only for the year and not for the month?

  • 1
    What if you wrote Copyright (c) 2000-5. Would that mean 2000-2005, or would that mean May 2005? What about Copyright (c) 2000-05? Conventionally dashes in copyright are for years, so when I see 2019-05 it does not really make sense. But if you wrote 2020-5 for example, that would be interpreted to mean 2020-2025.
    – Brandin
    May 2, 2019 at 19:48
  • @Brandin I see your point, using May 2019 would remove the ambiguity.
    – Daniel
    May 2, 2019 at 21:02

1 Answer 1


No. The laws that specify what a copyright line should look like dictate that you only mention a year or a year range.

§ 401 · Notice of copyright: Visually perceptible copies

(b) Form of Notice.-— If a notice appears on the copies, it shall consist of the following three elements:

(1) the symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word “Copyright”, or the abbreviation “Copr.”; and
(2) the year of first publication of the work; in the case of compilations or derivative works incorporating previously published material, the year date of first publication of the compilation or derivative work is sufficient. The year date may be omitted where a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, with accompanying text matter, if any, is reproduced in or on greeting cards, postcards, stationery, jewelry, dolls, toys, or any useful articles; and
(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
US Copyright law; emphasis mine

  • I wonder about the applicability of this format to other regions. I looked for a similar copyright format applicable to European countries (or EU) but found none. I didn't consider how this could be different across countries when formulating the question.
    – Daniel
    May 2, 2019 at 18:23
  • 1
    @Daniel, I also couldn't find anything in the EU regulations, but the format used by the EU itself when placing a notice also uses only the year (or a year range). May 3, 2019 at 6:49
  • 1
    Note that nothing about this rule forbids you from also adding the month if you choose, although it is unnecessary. For example "Copyright May 2005 J. Random Hacker" includes all three required elements, in addition to an unnecessary element (the month). Sometimes you'll also see notices that include the word "Copyright" as well as the C in a circle, even though including both is also unnecessary. Finally older software sometimes uses (C) after the word Copyright, e.g. "Copyright (C) 1999 SomeCompany". That (C) is not needed either, since the word Copyright is sufficient.
    – Brandin
    May 3, 2019 at 8:32

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