I have a software for which I set the license at the beginning of each file. The model I have is the following:

// ************************************************************************** //
//  My Soft:
//! @file      PhysicalUnit.h
//! @homepage  http://www.gitlab.com/scientific-software/mysoft.git
//! @license   GNU General Public License v3 or higher (see COPYING)
//! @copyright My Institute 2013-now
//! @authors   John Doe, Bobby Clark
// ************************************************************************** //

As you can see, in order to avoid a yearly update of my copyright with 2013-2020, 2013-2021...

I put naively 2013-now. Is it valid?

If not, is it mandatory to put a date?

  • 5
    Writing the actual date instead of "now" will probably provide better evidence in the future of when the work eventually ends up in the public domain. At the moment, if a work is a corporate work or a pseudonymous work, the copyright will last 95 years after the publication. So if you just wrote "2013-now", then probably one could make an argument in the year 2108 that your "2013-now" work is eligible to become the public domain in that year. But if you write "2013-2020" then it is clear to everyone that it will not go into the public domain until at least 2115.
    – Brandin
    Jan 27, 2020 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


Putting "now" is a bad practice since it will necessarily become inaccurate over time. Even if you continue to update your work and remember to change "now" to a specific year whenever you make your final change, years-old copies of your work made by other will not have copyrightable changes in the current year. Even if you only ever distribute copies for which "now" really is the last year you made a copyrightable change, others might distribute older copies for which that assertion is no longer correct.

Copyright notices are virtually meaningless except for a very small benefit in certain niche procedural concerns in the United States, and even then a start-year only is sufficient to qualify. Consider further that such a "now" will inevitably become wrong (when older copies are not updated in the future) and even in the best case is wothlessly obvious (of course it was "now" when you made the changes -- when else would it have been?). In view of those facts, and that there is little reason to include a copyright notice other than your name anyway, you may as well omit your "now".

  • 1
    thanks a lot for the detailed answer
    – user17092
    Jan 27, 2020 at 16:40

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